Time travel can be a tricky business, dearies. Anything you change in the past can generate a ripple effect of epic proportions, inevitably altering the course of the entire future (you know, to put it lightly). Heck, Marty McFly almost completely erased himself from existence in Back to the Future after he unintentionally prevented his parents from ever meeting. (Great Scott, indeed!) Bottom line — this is some pretty heavy stuff. But good ole Marty isn’t the only character to make a mistake of that magnitude (1.21 gigawatts, to be exact). Our very own Emma Swan encountered a very similar problem during Once Upon a Time ’s Season 3 finale. If you recall, during Hook and Emma's little trip to the past, she accidentally screwed up Prince Charming and Snow White’s legendary meet-cute in the Enchanted Forest, putting not only her own existence, but the salvation of the entire Once Upon a Time community in serious jeopardy. (NBD though, right?)
Luckily, she and her hunky sidekick, Hook, were able to correct the situation eventually — even if it did involve having her parents meet in a somewhat different way. (But a win is a win, I guess.) However, this little adventure was not without consequences. Take the rescue and return of Robin Hood’s not-so-dead wife, Maid Marian, for example — which left Regina feeling heartbroken and alone yet again. (Yeah, that’s totally not going to come with any backlash or anything.)
But all of that got me thinking… if Emma’s already altered that small portion of history, what’s to say she didn’t end up changing other things as well? I mean, it’s totally possible, right? This trip could’ve caused some serious ramifications that could end up significantly impacting OUAT 's Season 4 plot. Like what? I’m so glad you asked!
It was recently announced that True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten will once again be reprising her role as the evil Maleficent during the second half of the fourth season. As of now, it’s remains unclear what exactly will prompt her sudden return. (Last we saw, she was still stuck in a zombie-like state underneath Storybrooke's clock tower.) But wouldn’t it be interesting if her renewed presence has something to do with Emma and Hook’s disruption of the past? Perhaps Maid Marian’s escape inspires Regina to team up with her gal pal Maleficent and the two of them go on a killing rampage together, becoming more dangerous and powerful than ever before.
Granted, if that was the case, then Maleficent probably never would’ve ended up being held prisoner by Regina in the clock tower… which means Rumple may not have been able to get his hands on the true love potion stored in her belly… which means magic might never have been brought to Storybrooke. (Anyone else's head spinning or is it just me?) So yeah, maybe this particular story arc is a bit more complicated than I would like. But the point is that it’s entirely possible to somehow tie Maleficent’s return to Emma and Hook’s Back to the Future-esque shenanigans. All magic comes with a price, after all — and I’d say facing the wrath of a gigantic, fire-breathing dragon would certainly fit that bill.
Or, you know, there’s absolutely no consequence and Maleficent just somehow manages to escape from the clock tower in her current state. But doesn’t that seem a little boring after hearing my whole time-travel theory?
Rumpelstiltskin’s Forgetting Potion Backfires
As you would expect, Rumpel ended up learning quite a bit about his future during his attempt to bring Emma and Hook back to the present day (like the fact that his son forgives him, but ends up dying shortly afterward). Normally, information like that would be something Rumpel would want to hold onto, especially if he hoped to change the outcome. However, our favorite spinner of gold decided to do the right thing for once and opted to take the forgetting potion he’d concocted for himself — completely erasing everything he’d learned during Captain Swan's little visit. But what if something went wrong and he ended up forgetting more than just those particular memories? A creature as powerful as The Dark One can’t afford to forget things as easily as your run-of-the-mill human, or it could lead to catastrophic consequences. Your move, OUAT writers.
Elsa’s Chilling Debut
Let’s not forget about that Frozen elephant in the room. The biggest setback to come out of Emma and Hook’s journey was Elsa's escape from Rumpel’s lair. If Hook had never taken that golden vase out of its cabinet, then it wouldn't have gotten sucked into the portal and Storybrooke wouldn't currently be in the process of freezing over. So whatever happens from here on out is basically the result of their actions. But what’s done is done. All they and the rest of the town can do now is make the best out of the situation and just… well… let it go.