So how about that black smoke monster that consumed Emma in the final moments of the Once Upon A Time season finale? That was pretty weird and unexpected, huh? If you're already itching to go ahead and re-watch Emma's descent into darkness, you're going to have to wait a while. Season 4 of Once Upon A Time likely won't hit Netflix until later this summer, so a second viewing of the season is going to have to wait a while. However, in gearing up for that, you can start thinking about the major episodes you want to re-watch in anticipation of Season 5. [UPDATE: OUAT Season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.]
Like the OUAT seasons before, it Season 4 was split into two parts. It feels like for-the-first-time-in-forever ago that Frozen characters stopped by Storybrooke, but in reality it was only a few short months ago. Obviously, those are going to be some major episodes to check out again, if only to try to piece together that Snow Queen/long-lost-aunt story before Emma can. That's not all, though. The Sorcerer played a huge part during Season 4, and it looks like he'll play an even bigger part in Season 5. Now we've got a name — Merlin — so might there already be clues hiding in his giant mansion on the outskirts of town?
Last year, OUAT Season 3 dropped onto Netflix in late summer, right at the beginning of August. Thankfully, it still came well before Season 4, giving me plenty of time to re-watch. There's no set date for when we'll actually see it available for streaming, though it will likely follow last year's pattern and be released on Netflix in the late summer, weeks before the Season 5 premiere. Here are the six episodes you should watch first. By the time you're done with these, you're going to want to use some magic to speed up the return of Once Upon A Time.
"A Tale of Two Sisters" — Episode 1
The first episode of the season introduced us to a whole new world: Arendelle. Frozen came to television and expanded on the original film's story by quite a bit. The events picked up where the movie left off, with Elsa's accidental eternal winter over and everyone having built a snowman. In the premiere we saw that Anna then basically disappeared and Elsa found herself in the strange new world of Maine.
"The Apprentice" — Episode 4
OK, Emma and Hook date alert. It's one of the few times we've seen Emma dressed up, and she looked amazing. Killian, of course, looked dashing, and I'm totally behind this. Oh, but then Rumplestilsken gave Hook back his hand, but it was an enchanted evil hand that caused him to do some questionable things.
There was something else going on in the episode, too. It's titled "The Apprentice" and really kicked off The Sorcerer's Apprentice storyline that only became more important throughout the rest of the season.
"Heroes & Villains" — Episode 12
The episode that would set the theme for Season 4B introduced us to a whole new kind of darkness for Storybrooke. We quickly meet Ursula, Cruella, and Maleficent (again) and learn that Rumple has a way to get back to town, and track down the author and give them happy endings.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Regina had to say goodbye to Robin and there was lots of crying, and then Belle banished Rumple, and there was even more crying. It's a heavy episode, and you might've missed some important moments through all of those tears.
"Heart of Gold" — Episode 18
You should re-watch this episode because Neal/Balefire got a thousand shout outs as Robin and Marion moved into his apartment in New York City. It's nice to see him referenced, as I like to imagine that he's going to come back to OUAT somehow, just because I miss him and will never stop talking about him. So watch "Heart of Gold" and imagine me crying at my television, "NEAAAAALLLLLLL" the whole time.
Oh, but also Regina and Emma ended up in NYC in an attempt to find Robin, where they learned that Zelena is still alive and she killed Marion. It's a lot to process, and these events are key turning points in Season 4.
"Lily" — Episode 20
Any episode featuring Emma's past is always heartbreaking, because she was robbed of anything resembling a happy childhood. In "Lily" we saw her get a chance at happiness, which was then promptly stolen by Lily. Turns out, she and Lily have always been connected, beyond just being childhood "runaway" friends. Lily is actually Maleficent's daughter, which opened up a whole new world of crazy as the truth about her life, and what Charming and Snow did to her, started coming out. Who knew the Charmings could be so semi-evil?
"Operation Mongoose: Part 1 & 2" — Episode 22 & 23
The season finale packed so many punches, and set up everything that's going to happen next. Emma's now the dark one? Henry's the new Author? The sorcerer has been Merlin this whole time? Could OUAT be dipping into Sword in the Stone territory, perhaps? But be warned, if you watch "Operation Mongoose: Part 1 & 2" too long before OUAT returns, the wait for more may be impossible to bear.
Images: Eric McCandless, Jack Rowand (5), Katie Yu/ABC