Between witches, curses, and magic hats, it's hard to keep track of the goings on in Storybrooke, Maine. Before Snow White and Prince Charming rub elbows with King Arthur, let's recap Once Upon A Time Season 4. Before we figure out what's going to happen to Rumplestiltskin and all of the best (and doomed) OUAT ships, take a minute to remember how they got where they are.
If you've never seen the ABC series before, it's about a small town populated by well-known fictional characters. A Dark Curse put them there and they've been dealing with the consequences of their actions and identities ever since. Season 4 of Once Upon A Time didn't take us far from Storybrooke, which I appreciated after the crazy ride from Neverland to Oz that was Season 3. The show actually got back to its roots and started answering some of the questions posed by the pilot. There were two big curses, but neither of them lasted more than an episode. One was fanfiction realized and completely reversed everyone's character. The other just made the town of Storybrooke mean for a second.
In addition, here are some of the other big hits from OUAT Season 4, whether you need a refresher before the premiere or you're a big Camelot fan and want to jump in cold.
The minute you finally had "Let It Go" out of your head, Once Upon A Time introduced Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and the whole gang (minus Olaf — still bitter) from Arendelle. We learned that Anna had once befriended both David and Belle. Also, Little Bo Peep was a villain, but let's not dwell on that. Most importantly, the ABC spin on the Disney hit included the girls' Aunt and original Ice Queen, a woman named Ingrid who was played by Elizabeth Mitchell. Unlike Elsa, Ingrid was a real villain who wanted to "unite her family" and bring out the worst in Storybrooke's residents. We also learned that Ingrid once traveled to our world and took Emma Swan in as a foster daughter, because of course she did.
The "Queens of Darkness" United
Why have one guest villainess when you can have three? The second half of season four featured Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruelle DeVil. The shady ladies came to Storybrooke to assist Gold in the hunt for the Author. However, Rumplestiltskin wasn't the only one who had history with the Queens. Hook had met Ursula when she was younger, Cruella was seduced by the author, and the Charmings betrayed Maleficent to keep Emma protected from her dark side. Finally, we learned that Emma made one friend as a child... who turned out to be Maleficent's long lost daughter.
The Knave Confused Me
Off of his hilarious performance in Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, Michael Socha joined OUAT to revise his role as the Knave of Hearts/Will Scarlett. However, the timeline and fate of his true love Anastasia were never fully explained, which made his brief fling with Belle even more awkward.
We Finally Met The Author
As it turned out, the author of Henry's story book was not someone we already knew. It was a regular guy named Isaac Heller who got a little too involved with taking the story in his own personal direction.
Zelena Is Back
Not only is the Wicked Witch of the West not dead (which was kind of hinted at the end of Season 3), but she posed as Maid Marian, seduced Robin Hood while they were living in New York, and is now pregnant. As always, poor Regina!
Emma Swan Is The Dark One
One of the connecting threads in Season 4 is the Sorcerer's Apprentice hat, like the one that Mickey wears in Fantasia. We learned that it absorbs magical powers like a weapon. They tried to use it to get rid of the Dark One curse, but it ended up leaking onto Emma. As the Sorcerer's Apprentice lay dying, he told the Storybrooke residents that they needed to find Merlin — meaning that when Once Upon A Time returns for Season 5, they're off to Camelot!
Images: Tyler Shields, Katie Yu, Jack Rowand (5)/ABC