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Season 3
Once Upon a Time Season 3

No. of episodes

22

Original release

September 29, 2013 – May 11, 2014

Premiere

The Heart of the Truest Believer

Finale

Snow Drifts/There's No Place Like Home

Previous

Season 2

Next

Season 4

The third season of the American ABC fantasy-drama Once Upon a Time was announced on May 10, 2013. Executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis also noted that the season would be split into two volumes, with the first premiering on September 29, 2013 through December 15, 2013, and the second from March 9, 2014 through May 11, 2014.

The first volume's plot revolved around the main characters traveling to Neverland from Storybrooke to retrieve a kidnapped Henry Mills from the possession of Peter Pan. After successfully retrieving Henry, the characters returned to Storybrooke, only to be returned to their original worlds following Pan's new Curse, leaving Emma Swan and Henry to escape to New York City. The second plot followed the characters' past journey in the Enchanted Forest and how they were brought back to Storybrooke by the Wicked Witch of the West, while also documenting Emma's mission to break the new Curse and save her family. New characters introduced in the season include the main antagonists of the two volumes: Peter Pan and the Wicked Witch of the West, in addition to Tinker Bell, Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, Medusa, Rapunzel, Lumiere, the Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch, the Good Witch of the North, the Witch of the East, Dorothy Gale, Blackbeard, Robin Hood, and Elsa.

The season premiere was watched by 8.52 million viewers, achieving an adult 18-49 rating/share of 2.6/7. The mid-season finale received critical acclaim from critics with many praising the episode's ending, Mr. Gold's fate, and the flash-forward technique used. The spring premiere brought in the highest viewing figures since the season's second episode, earning the highest weekly viewership rank for the series since the second episode of the second season in October 2012. The episode was met with positive reviews, with critics complimenting the unpredictable nature of the new story lines created by the writers and producers. The 2-hour season finale was watched by 6.8 million viewers, with an adult rating/share of 2.3/7, becoming the least-viewed season finale yet, despite the improved ratings. On May 8, 2014, the series was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered in September 28, 2014.

Plot

In Neverland, Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) is taken by Greg Mendell (Ethan Embry) and Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) through the jungle, only for his captors to be killed, leaving him to flee from the real Home Office - the Lost Boys. Henry teams up with a fellow runaway, who later reveals to Henry that he is in fact Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) and wants Henry as he owns the "heart of the truest believer". With help from the Lost Boys, Pan keeps Henry away from his family, playing games with them and attempting to brainwash Henry into believing that he is the only one to save magic in Neverland. Simultaneously, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin), David Nolan (Josh Dallas), Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla), Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), and Captain Killian "Hook" Jones (Colin O'Donoghue) successfully arrive in Neverland, though Gold leaves the party to search for Henry on the island himself. Emma elects to lead the crew on a direct assault route, declaring that they must believe in each other in order for them to succeed in Neverland. They later track down Tinker Bell (Rose McIver) who reluctantly agrees to help them, after making up with Regina following their past experiences. David keeps his secret of being struck by a Dreamshade infused arrow from the rest of the group, in order to stay focused on their mission to save Henry.

Meanwhile, Neal Cassidy (Michael Raymond-James) awakens in the Enchanted Forest, being tended to by Princess Aurora (Sarah Bolger), Prince Phillip (Julian Morris), and Mulan (Jamie Chung). It is later revealed that Mulan has romantic feelings for Aurora, though she does not reveal her feelings, instead deciding to join Robin Hood (Sean Maguire)'s group of Merry Men when Aurora tells her that she is expecting a baby with Phillip.[6] With further assistance from Hood, Neal manages to use Pan's shadow to travel to Neverland and locate Emma, though he is captured by Pan. Emma, her parents and Hook later retrieve Neal from the Echo Caves upon revealing their darkest secrets; Hook reveals his true love for Emma, Mary Margaret confesses to wanting another baby once back in Storybrooke, David reveals his injury, and Emma tells Neal that she wished he was really dead as she did not want to revisit all of the pain she had been through of losing him again. The group then capture Pan's shadow in Dark Hollow, while Henry accepts Pan's challenge of saving magic at Skull Rock.

Rumplestiltskin summons his own shadow in an effort to bury his dagger and hide it from others. An illusion of Belle (Emilie de Ravin) regularly visits him in the jungle, though it is later revealed she is Pan's shadow in disguise attempting to steer Rumplestiltskin from his mission. He then collaborates with Regina, summoning the mermaid Ariel (Joanna García Swisher) to retrieve Pandora's Box from Gold's shop in Storybrooke. After Belle protects Storybrooke with a barrier spell, she successfully sends Ariel back with the item, following their misunderstanding with John (Matt Kane) and Michael Darling (James Immekus), who were enlisted by Pan to do everything he says, otherwise he will harm their sister Wendy (Freya Tingley). Rumplestiltskin and Regina later rejoin the rest of the group, though they doubt his true intentions after he reveals the prophecy of Henry being his undoing. To prove himself, Rumplestiltskin travels to Skull Rock to confront Pan, who is shown to be a younger version of his father Malcolm who abandoned him in Neverland years ago. Instead of capturing Pan in Pandora's Box, Rumplestiltskin is placed inside by Pan, who then tricks Henry into giving him his heart from his body. The group then set about to save him, with Regina retrieving his heart and resurrecting him. Rumplestiltskin is released by Neal, then trapping Pan inside the box instead after he discovers him attempting to rip Henry's shadow. The residents of Neverland all aboard the Jolly Roger and travel home to Storybrooke, using Pan's shadow to fly the ship. However, Pan has secretly inhabited Henry's body after switching before being trapped.

Pan (in Henry's body) plays games with the residents, temporarily killing Mother Superior (Keegan Connor Tracy) by unleashing his shadow. Rumplestiltskin gives David an antidote for his dreamshade poisoning, which successfully cures him. After Emma believes that Henry is not himself, she demands that Gold opens Pandora's Box to confront "Pan". After sharing intimate details of their relationship, Henry is welcomed by his family once more, while Pan steals Regina's original curse, using Felix's heart to enact it. The residents prepare to fight back; Tinker Bell successfully destroys Pan's shadow, reviving Mother Superior, who gives them the Black Fairy's wand to return Pan and Henry to their correct bodies. Regina falls unconscious upon touching the curse's scroll and seeing what needs to be done. Pan awakens and removes Rumplestiltskin's magic, seeking out the town's residents to kill them. However, Rumplestiltskin confronts Pan and summons his own shadow from Neverland with his dagger. Finally ready for redemption, he stabs both himself and Pan, sacrificing them to prevent his curse. The distraught others are then informed by Regina that she must undo her original curse that will return everyone to their original worlds. In order to do so, she must give Henry up as he was born in the real world. She selflessly enlists Emma to take care of him, giving the two new memories that erase the events following the curse's enactment. As the two bid farewell, the curse takes hold and engulfs the town, while Emma and Henry flee.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, the characters attempt to work together to restore their realm. Regina struggles to come to terms with the loss of Henry, removing her heart and producing a sleeping curse for herself; though Mary Margaret and Robin Hood persuade her to move forward. Hood and Regina strike a strong friendship, unaware that they are each other's true love. She later takes back her castle, finding Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) inside, who reveals to Regina that she is her older half-sister as she is the daughter of Cora. She explains her back story of how Cora abandoned her, sending her to Oz, and how she seeks to take everything that she never had away from Regina. Neal and Belle travel to Rumplestiltskin's castle and are located to the Dark One's Vault by a candle-man named Lumiere. Neal unlocks the vault, resurrecting Rumplestiltskin but killing himself. Before he dies, Rumplestiltskin takes his body and merges it with his own. Hook departs the group to return to his pirate life, but struggles with the loss of the Jolly Roger. He is later informed by Ariel that the ship was stolen by fellow pirate Blackbeard (Charles Mesure). Following a duel, Hook kills Blackbeard and reclaims the Jolly Roger, while Ariel discovers that her missing love Prince Eric had been kidnapped and taken to Hangman's Island. She later manages to find him and the two live happily together. In the Enchanted Forest, Zelena gets closer to Snow's unborn baby and informs her that she will get it. Eager to find a way stop Zelena, Snow and David seek help from Glinda the Good Witch, who informs them that light magic can defeat Zelena. Understanding this to be a reference to Emma, David sacrifices his heart to Snow, who reluctantly crushes it to create a new curse. Zelena appears and adds a memory spell to the curse that removes everyone's memories of the past year in the Enchanted Forest. Shortly afterwards, Snow instructs Regina to take her heart, split it in half and give half to Snow and half to David, and David awakens before the curse is fully enacted. Unbeknownst to Zelena, who gives Rumplestiltskin a memory potion to keep his memories intact, Neal temporarily removes himself from his father's body and sends the potion to Hook so that he can bring Emma back to Storybrooke.

One year after the enactment of Pan's curse, Emma and Henry are shown living a happy life in New York City. However, Hook arrives at their apartment to the confusion of Emma who does not remember him. He attempts to make Emma believe, insisting that her family is in danger, though she at first ignores him. He eventually manages to persuade Emma to return to Storybrooke after she drinks a potion that restores her memories. In turn, she turns down her boyfriend of eight months Walsh (Christopher Gorham)'s marriage proposal. Walsh reveals his true intentions, transforming into a flying monkey and attempting to attack Emma, though she fights him off. In a flashback, it is revealed that the Wicked Witch of the West transformed Walsh from the Wizard of Oz into the creature after he could not change her troubled past. Returning to Storybrooke, Emma reunites with her parents, who reveal they are expecting a baby, though they have no memory of how they were transported back to the town and who is responsible. The residents then team up to discover the identity of the curse's creator. When inhabitants are reported missing and begin transforming into flying monkeys, they soon realize that the Wicked Witch of the West is the culprit, who is known as Zelena in the town. She plots to get closer to Mary Margaret's baby by becoming her mid-wife, whilst the revelation of Mr. Gold's resurrection is revealed as she holds him prisoner in an underground cellar in the town. She steals a nightroot plant and uses it to take David's courage after he is attacked by a doppelganger. At the same time, Regina begins to see Henry again, though his lost memories mean he does not remember her. When Regina begins to spend more time with Robin Hood, she realizes he is her true love after noticing his lion tattoo that was mentioned by Tinker Bell. Though initially scared of this revelation, she gives Hood her heart to prevent Zelena from "destroying" her. The two eventually begin a romantic relationship.

Emma finds Neal, after he is initially nowhere to be found, only to find that he is trapped within Mr. Gold, thus causing him to lose his mind. Neal asks for Emma to separate him from Mr. Gold to defeat the Wicked Witch, even though he will die; she reluctantly agrees. Belle later learns that Zelena needs three ingredients to create a time travel spell, consisting of Rumplestiltskin's brain, David's courage, and Regina's heart. When Regina summons her mother in order to discover her history with Zelena, Cora possesses Mary Margaret, who is able to witness her own mother Eva's cruel past towards Cora. The group then work out that Zelena wants to travel back and kill Eva for revealing her baby secret to Prince Leopold. Zelena later curses Hook, so that if he kisses Emma, she will lose her powers, which are simultaneously being strengthened by Regina's teaching. Mary Margaret later finds Henry's fairytale book again, understanding that this allowed Emma's memories to be restored originally. Though Emma wants Henry to have a normal life she decides that he must know the truth and gives him the book, restoring his memories. After Regina kisses Henry, the curse is broken and the residents' missing memories are returned. They learn that Zelena has a pendant on her that enables her to focus her magic and only a strong light magic user, like Emma, can stop her.

Soon after, Mary Margaret goes into labor. Emma and Hook attempt to stop Zelena before she could come and claim the child, but she has Gold drown him in a bucket of water, forcing Emma to kiss him and lose her magic to save his life. Zelena steals Mary Margaret's newborn son and begins to enact her time travel spell. Ultimately, Regina defeats her using light magic and takes the pendant, though she spares Zelena. However, Gold later visits Zelena in her cell and kills her in revenge for Neal's death.

Unbeknownst to everyone, a green mist flows from her pendant and re-enacts the time travel spell. Emma and Hook accidentally fall into it and end up in the Enchanted Forest of the past, and incidentally interrupt Prince Charming and Snow White's first meeting. They go to Rumpelstiltskin, who agrees to recreate the time travel spell while they ensure that Charming and Snow would fall in love. After a few mishaps, which included Emma being thrown in the Evil Queen's dungeon, they managed to set history back on its proper course, though Emma had freed one of the Queen's prisoners who was due to be executed. Deciding to take the prisoner back to the present, Emma and Hook return to Rumplestiltskin for the fairy wand that can recreate the time travel spell, but it can only be done by a magic user who had used the spell before. The Dark One then imprisons the trio in his vault containing dark magics too powerful for him to use. However, Emma regains her magic upon realizing that home is with her family and open the time portal and they return to the present. As the Charmings formally name their newborn son in honor of Neal, Rumplestiltskin is there and reveals how it affects him by touching his nose, a past scene that his son did when he was but a baby to his father. Hook and Emma finally start a relationship with each other after Hook reveals he traded the Jolly Rodger for a magic bean so that he could get to New York and bring her back to Storybrooke. Later as everyone is happy, Belle and Rumplestiltskin have a private wedding with Archie and Belle's father Moe and say beautiful vows to each other that touches on everyone in the scene. Later the prisoner is revealed to be Maid Marian, who is reunited with Robin Hood and his son Roland, shattering his relationship with Regina. And worse, unknown to everyone, an urn from Rumplestiltskin's vault had returned with them, releasing Elsa.

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