|Season 6, Episode 14|
|Airdate||March 26, 2017|
|Written by||David H. Goodman & Brigitte Hales|
|Directed by||Kate Woods|
A Wondrous Place
View the Page 23 Gallery.
The Dark Palace from the first curse Enchanted Forest is featured.
- The Enchanted Forest events take place after "Lost Girl" and before "Souls of the Departed".
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Ill-Boding Patterns".
In the Characters' Past
In the pre-First Curse Enchanted Forest, Regina, during her reign as the Evil Queen, is still after Snow White's heart, and as usual, comes up empty-handed as Snow eludes her once again. The Evil Queen then gathers the villagers and tells them that she, not Snow White, cares about them. When Tinkerbell shows up to tell her why she did not pursue Robin Hood, Regina decided to scorn the fairy, but spared her and told Tinkerbell not to meddle with her. This later leads to an argument between Regina and Prince Henry, who warns his daughter that revenge will never make her happy.
Later on, Henry, with help from Tinkerbell, leads Regina to a portal that was designed to lead Regina to Robin, but the Queen is still obsessed with revenge, as she takes Cupid's arrow, and uses dark magic to make it pinpoint the person she hates most instead. However, when she fires the arrow, it flies straight towards the fortress. Believing that Snow is there, Regina returns to discover that the arrow leads her to her mirror, which she shatters into pieces. Regina realizes it is herself she hates most.
In the present day, the Evil Queen brings Robin back with her to town, he wants to go to New York but the Evil Queen wants to return Robin back to his Wish Realm, so she first asks him to dig up an item in the woods. Regina and Zelena then visit Emma and Snow, where they learn that Hook proposed to Emma upon looking at the engagement ring, but when they learn that the Evil Queen has returned to her original form, Emma wants to put those plans on hold. At the woods, Robin's shovel hits the metal box, which contained the Fate's Shears of Destiny, which the Evil Queen wants to use not only to separate her fate from Regina's, but to destroy Regina and Storybrooke. The Evil Queen then shows up to take Henry's Author's Pen, so she could keep Henry from writing her out of existence or interfering with her coming showdown with Regina. Then, after Henry reveals that he only wanted to use the Pen to help move her towards redemption, The Evil Queen scoffs at the idea. The Evil Queen then gives Henry a note to deliver to Regina, before telling him that no matter what anyone says, she still loves him.
When Regina receives the message, she learns that the message came from Page 23 of the "Once Upon a Time" storybook that detailed the happy ending Regina never got, which Regina discovered that it all tied to Robin, who is being used as bait to lure her to the Evil Queen so she can kill her, even though Robin believes this plan will fail. Regina confronts her other half at the Mayor's office, but the Evil Queen tells Regina she's more interested in using the shears to destroy Regina rather than helping Robin. Regina dares the Evil Queen to use the Shears and the latter does, unveiling the ties of fate linking Regina to her evil half, which The Evil Queen severes with the Shears. This makes the Evil Queen completely independent of Regina, allowing the two to battle each other until Regina manages to overpower the Evil Queen, and binds her against a pillar on the wall. Then, Regina, after looking at the broken mirror and seeing how much she hated her evil self, displays the Evil Queen's heart to show her that she chooses to love over hate. Regina then transfers half of the Evil Queen's darkness into her heart, while transferring half of her light into the Evil Queen's heart, turning the two Reginas into bonding sisters who agree to bury the hatchet. The two agreed to send Robin back to his Wish Realm, and with help from Henry, he writes a new chapter and happy ending for the formerly Evil Queen by sending her off to a place to begin a fresh start.
Meanwhile, Hook arrives at the docks to say farewell to Nemo, and confides his secret about killing Emma's grandfather to Nemo. Nemo suggests that Hook either ask for forgiveness from Emma or keep the secret and learn to forgive himself. Ultimately, Hook decides to remove his memories through magic and burn them. When Emma sees him doing this, she is not upset to learn he killed her grandfather, since they have come too far for something like that to break them; however, she is upset that Hook chose to keep it from her, as they had earlier in the season decided to no longer keep secrets from one other, in order to build a more honest relationship. Reluctantly, Emma passes back the ring and calls off the wedding until Hook can learn to do that. Later, Snow congratulates Hook on the engagement, not knowing about what transpired earlier. Unfortunately, just as Hook changes his mind and is about to leave Nautilus to return to Emma, the submarine submerges without Nemo ordering it to do so. Hook and Nemo learn that Gideon had ordered the sub out of Storybrooke, in order to get Hook out of the way so he can kill Emma, leaving Hook and Nemo trapped as prisoners. A hurt Emma waits at home for Hook, and realizing he won't be returning, shuts off the lights.
In the Wish Realm
The Queen sends Robin back home after his many pleas to leave Storybrooke. Later, as the Queen wishes for a fresh start, she is sent to the Wish Realm, where she reunites with Robin in a local bar. True to the image on Page 23, a bond begins to blossom.
Josh Dallas, Robert Carlyle, and Emile de Ravin are credited but do not appear in this episode. Hesham Hammoud, who plays the Crewman in this episode, also played Ghazi in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Who's Alice".
The title of this episode was revealed by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on November 30, 2016. The title of this episode is a reference to the alternate page XXIII of Henry's book, which represents another version of Regina and Robin's first meeting. It was created by Isaac Heller, and first appears in the Season 4 episode "Smash the Mirror".
- Page 23 is the page from the book that showed Regina and Robin together after Regina chose to enter the tavern.
- This is Lana Parrilla's favorite episode on the show.
- The object/animal/person in this episode is the Dark Palace.
- According to Brigitte Hales, she had to write the "break-up" scene between Emma and Hook the day after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and "spent all day crying and writing".
- The title card features the Evil Queen's Palace.
- This episode marks the return of the actor Edward Foy.
- 23 is one of the numbers on ABC's Lost.
- The name of Regina's horse is revealed by her father, Henry, as Rocinante. This is also the name of Don Quixote's in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
- The Enchanted Forest flashbacks occur after "Heart of Darkness".
- Writer Brigitte Hales described this episode as "emotional".
- The title of this episode was revealed by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on November 30, 2016.
- The establishing shot of Regina's house is stock footage from the filming of the first scene where Emma takes Henry home in the Season One premiere.
- In the episode script, Hook says to Captain Nemo, "I hope you're right. Thank you, old friend", and he and Nemo hug as Nemo answers, "Goodbye." This exchange is not in the final episode.