I've been waiting so long for "New York City Serenade," and now that it's come, I find myself speechless. Let's take this thing chronologically, or at least what seems to be chronologically.
When last we left Storybrooke, or rather, when last it left us, Emma and Henry were settled in New York, with 11 or so years of false memories planted in their head, thanks to a lovely parting gift from Regina. Meanwhile, undoing The Dark Curse brought all our other characters back to their world of origin.
In "New York City Serenade," the fairy tale scenes are set from the moment the Storybrookers return to L'enchantment, a year ago. The un-curse plops them down into the middle of an Aurora/Phillip picnic. Phillip offers their hospitality to the returnees, but all Charming wants is a horse and some rations to get the back to their kingdom, at least until Snow reminds him that their palace (once home to King George) was destroyed by the curse.
Regina mentions that she magically protected Knifingham Palace, before casting the curse. Snow decides that the people will feel less alarmed if she and Regina return to Knifingham, as a united front. Regina agrees, but then ditches the party to rip out her own heart and bury it in the woods, because she cannot bear the loss of Henry. Snow talks Regina into restoring her heart, which to me, seems like it should be more difficult than it was, since said heart was already lying in the dirt.
Anyhow, the ladies are then attacked by a flying monkey. They don't recognize the creature, which I find a little disappointing, since they spent 28 years in our world, and know all the stories. Robin Hood and his band of Merry Man (minus Mulan, who has hopped a portal into NBC's Believe) save Snow and Regina. Later, when the returnees cannot access Regina's castle (someone has magically hijacked it), Robin also offers shelter and protection to them. The hijacker, by the way, is the Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader), who probably has chocolate before dinner, any time she wants.
In other enchanted news, it looks like Belle and Neal will work together to find out what happened to Rumpelstiltskin. And of course, Neal wants to find a way back to Emma and Henry. He just hopes doing so won't require cursing an entire kingdom. Jiminy is once again a cricket and Red is photoshopped into the return sequence. Notably absent is Tinker Bell. I hope that's only temporary.
In the present, in New York City, Hook stalks Emma. She has been dating Walsh (Christopher Gorham) for eight months, who up and proposes marriage. Emma, being Emma, can't say yes right away, but she talks it over with Henry, and seems inclined to accept. Fortunately, Hook manages to break through her amnesia (thanks to the only dose of a memory potion), before Emma says yes. When Emma tries to let Walsh down easy, he turns into a flying monkey!
Emma, Hook and Henry return to an again extant Storybrooke. Since Henry still has curse amnesia, Hook watches over the sleeping lad, while Emma heads off to find her parents. In the most rewarding scene of the night, when Emma knocks, Charming opens the door. He thinks she can't remember him, and she thinks he can't remember her, but everyone remembers everyone, and it's ridiculously touching. What Charming cannot remember is the year they've spent apart. To him, to Snow, and to the rest of the residents from the enchanted realms, it seems as if they just said goodbye to Emma, yesterday. Emma wonders how they've known any time at all has passed. In answer, a very pregnant Snow White toddles into view.
There were some disappointing moments in "New York City Serenade." Most of them involve the flash backs to a year ago, in L'enchantment. I'll hit them all in the full recap, but the one which deserves special mention is how ready Snow and Charming are to accept the loss of Emma -- for the second time in their lives. I guess "I will always find you," is a two-person only pledge.
To go out on a happier note, the second most rewarding scene of the night is the NYC discussion of Neal, between Henry and Emma. Thanks to Regina's implanted memories, Henry knows Neal set up Emma to take the fall for his crime, and that he abandoned her. That was a long time coming, Show. Too long.
I'll be back with the recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top, and then join us on the boards, where we're trying to find Henry's book, so we can wake the kid up, and get on with the show.
Before I begin the "New York City Serenade" recap, proper, I just have to get something off my chest. Emma never had sex with Walsh. That's why he was so hot to marry her, so soon. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. I will brook no insolence on this point, Show. La la la la. I can't hear you. La la la la. Get it. Got it? Good! Shudder. I think I just heard Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz cackle. I'll get you, my pretties, and your little show too.
We open one year ago. Phillip, atop his noble steed, rides -- if not hell for leather, then at least hell for pleather -- to Aurora, no doubt. Has she fallen prey to another sleeping curse, ogres, or even Maleficent, herself? No, she's fallen prey to a cold weather picnic in a gazebo full of throw pillows. What even is that? Before they can sate Aurora's pregnant picnic cravings, thick purple smoke billows toward them. Shortly after their horses flee, the true lovers recognize the curse for what it is, and try to take shelter in the not at all sufficient, wide open gazebo of pillow piles, but then don't quite make it, not that it would have offered any protection.
When the smoke clears, Aurora and Phillip struggle to their feet to find Hook, Charming, Snow, Regina, the Dwarfs, Granny, Belle, Neal, CGRuby, standing in just about the positions they took on the Storybrooke road, when Regina undid her Dark Curse (and Pan's iteration of it).
Here's what's dumb: Ruby wasn't present at the town line, when Regina undid the curse, so why put an unreasonable facsimile of her here, now? I understand we'll see the lovely and talented Meghan Ory, in some capacity this season, but we're not morons. We know she's on that other show with Sawyer now. We already accepted the hard truth -- Ruby wasn't at Emma and Henry's goodbye, back in December 2013. Why plop her into this scene in which everyone else is standing in the same positions they took at the Storybrooke town line? Since she wasn't at the goodbye, it makes more sense to assume Ruby was somewhere else in Storybrooke when Regina undid things, and hence would land elsewhere in L'enchantment, once the undoing is done. On the other hand, Blue and Tinker Bell were at the town line (as was Archie, but I'll cut slack there and explain why, later) when Regina undid things, so why aren't they here now? Look, everyone either lands in L'enchantment, in the exact same positions in which they left Storybrooke, or they don't.