*A lot of people have come up with this theory, but it’s so perfect I had to write it down.
They say you learn the most from your mistakes. Mine came as I was watching “Murder Most Foul” and Charming said this:
I hadn’t really been paying enough attention to realize that he was talking about the sleeping curse that the Evil Queen had placed on him and Snow, so my mind immediately went to: What other curse needs to be broken? Luckily for me there is another curse that needs to be broken. Many of you know this, but it’s the curse that is keeping everyone in Storybrooke.
What we don’t realize is which part of the curse is still active. It’s not the dark aspects of the Dark Curse - that was broken by Emma as was prophesied/dictated by Rumpelstiltskin. No, it’s the other part that the pesky imp created that is trapping everyone here still.
The Savior curse. Think about it. The only reason Emma Swan is the Savior is because Rumplestiltskin made it so. In theory, Emma was no longer supposed to be the Savior after she broke the Dark Curse. Everyone was supposed to go back to where they were from, but that didn’t happen. Which means what? That portion of the curse, that tiny little drop, is a curse all in itself, and it too needs to be broken. When it is, Emma’s fate as the Savior will be broken; she will live.
Now you ask: But Emma was given the Shears of Destiny or whatever to cut herself from her fate and no longer be the Savior and she didn’t take it!
Well, we know how Rumple’s curse works right? A pair of pretty scissors wouldn’t break this curse because only one person has that power: Emma herself.
We’ve come full circle. Once upon a time Adam and Eddy pitched the idea that the curse would take seven years to fully break. Now we’ve reached that point. Once Emma breaks the Savior curse, Rumple’s spell that he placed on her life will break. Her Hero’s Journey will be complete, and she will return to her life in the real world, where no one needs her to protect them.
(I’ll come back to this in a minute)
So we know what needs to happen. Here I take it a step further and answer:
It turns out that we have that answer too:
Ah yes. True Love. Here’s where I know I’ll lose half of you because “Once Upon a Time is obsessed with Captain Swan. Why can’t you see that, you’re blinding yourself, stop perpetuating nonsense, wake up blah blah blah blah.”
Well, I’m going to counter that with: Why is Emma still the Savior then? If Once Upon a Captain Swan is genuinely the entire point of this show, why is Emma still fated to die?
Answer: You can’t break a curse where you’re the Savior of the fairytale characters with one of the said fairytale characters.
Here you respond again with: “Well, Smartypants, you call yourself a Swan Queen shipper, but you’ve just contradicted yourself. You think the Evil Queen can break the curse with Emma? She’s a fairytale character too!”
Well, reader, you are very clever indeed. But shall I provide you with my next exhibit:
While it was super fun to watch, Split Queen was not just done for the optics. It was a setup for endgame. The Evil Queen may be a fairytale character, but Mayor Regina Mills (like Emma and Henry) is a completely original creation of our world. Which means, like Emma, the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, she can live a completely normal life outside of the Enchanted Forest.
I was trying to figure out the purpose behind bringing Wish Robin Hood back, and this line really explains it:
The writers are priming us for a much bigger version of this concept. Robin is the first test of the portal system. Will it allow someone who isn’t supposed to be “real” stay in the “real world”? We know Storybrooke, by our standards, isn’t a real place, it’s a refuge for fairytale characters from many realms, so it makes sense that he passes the test in this case, but what about Regina? Will she, a person who isn’t supposed to be real, be allowed to live somewhere like Boston or New York if Storybrooke doesn’t exist. This first trial proves that yes, she will be able to because something about her is connected to our world (that thing is literally the writers themselves). They have Regina grapple with this issue- Why was wish Robin able to come here?- because she’s next, and she needs to know that she’ll be okay when she tries to stay in this world.
If Regina remains unconnected to the Evil Queen, she should be able to help Emma break the curse and remain in this reality. Will it really be True Love’s Kiss that frees Emma from the Savior Curse and sends everyone to where they belong?
I would hope.
I also hope that I’ll find $2000 on the street tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen.
But it’s certainly the most reasonable solution since literally every curse is broken with True Love’s Kiss…
Have you ever wondered why there’s never been a True Love’s Kiss with Emma & her parents or Emma with Hook? Perhaps part of that is because True Love’s Kiss can only work with people who are from the same reality. Since Regina had True Love’s Kiss with Henry, that means she’s a part of his reality. Part of her belongs in our world. Emma has never shared True Love’s Kiss with Hook because he isn’t a part of her reality. He’s still a fairytale character. They can get married, she can choose that life, but that means she will remain tied to her fate as the Savior. She will always be connected to the Fairytale world. She will eventually die for them.
But if somehow, Regina Mills is Emma’s true True Love; if two “real people” who were created in this world- Emma Swan the bail bonds person, and Regina Mills the Mayor- shared True Love’s Kiss (not saying they’ll make it gay like they should) then the entire curse could be broken.
I just don’t see any other way they could go with this. The show has always foreshadowed that Storybrooke isn’t supposed to last.
We know there’s going to be a “reset” for the show…
And we know that Regina is no longer connected to the Evil Queen. Everything is setting up for the fairytale characters to return to their world.
But what happens next?
A good story always comes full circle, but the hero returns home with more knowledge and is in a better place. Odysseus goes on a crazy journey with a bunch of messed up shit but eventually makes it back home. Dorothy wishes she could experience life over the rainbow, but when she does, she learns that there’s no place like home. Harry Potter steps onto Platform 9 ¾ for the first time alone, and in the last book he steps on with a family. So if in the Pilot we see Emma in her lonely Boston apartment, wishing on a star to no longer be alone, it only makes sense that the last time we see her, she’s in her Boston apartment but she isn’t alone- she has a family.
We know Henry will be a part of that family, but it’s safe to assume that Regina will be there too, because of this promise:
Unfortunately all magic comes with a price, and my prediction is that price will be that everyone forgets that any of this ever happened.
I’m grounding this theory in the fact that the last time there was a reset, that happened to half of the parties involved: Emma and Henry
In that scenario, the Dark Curse was destroyed. The Dark Curse’s purpose was to create Storybrooke, so once it was gone, Emma and Henry forgot that Storybrooke ever existed… But everyone in the Enchanted Forest still remembered Emma and Henry because the Savior Curse still existed- they all remembered the Savior. They were able to go back and get her and recreate the bridge between our worlds because Emma was still the Savior. Once the Savior Curse is gone, everything will be wiped out. Everyone will forget that the Savior existed, and why she existed. All the fairytale characters will return to their world where their stories will play out, and all the characters from our world will begin to lead a normal life.
That life for Emma and Regina could very well be together. It’s not guaranteed, but it would certainly explain why the writers have made an effort to keep Emma and Regina apart in Storybrooke while maintaining a certain amount of tension between them- because their story isn’t meant to play out in Storybrooke. It would also explain why it’s not a topic of conversation for any of the writers or actors- it’s a major plot point, and talking about it would be a spoiler. Lastly, Adam Horowitz said himself that they weren’t queerbaiting:
If they’re planning on having Regina be a part of Emma’s new life free from the Savior curse, then technically this isn’t a lie.
But could they make it so that Emma and Regina’s relationship is merely as platonic co-parents in the real world? Of course. But at the end of the day we would still be right: Swan Queen would still technically be endgame, and it’s still a hell of a lot better than Captain Swan.