ABC’s Once Upon a Time ventures into new territory with season six’s 20th episode airing May 7, 2017. Titled ‘The Song in Your Heart,’ season six episode 20 is the show’s first musical episode, with many of the main cast members showing off their singing voices in a variety of catchy numbers. The musical episode begins with a young Emma sitting on her bed, reading a talent show flyer and humming into a tape deck. Her dreams of showing off her talent are squished when a mean-spirited girl tells her she’s not special. She wads up the paper and tosses it in the trash.
And now we see Emma (Jennifer Morrison) trying to decide between two wedding dresses. Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) is almost too excited to contain herself when she delivers the news Belle found her wedding dress in storage at Gold’s shop. Uncertainly, she asks if Emma will wear it and Emma says yes, with Snow assuring her daughter the dress will be clean and ready for the wedding that very evening. They hug and Snow is overcome with emotion.
A flashback shows Snow upset and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) attempting to calm her down. Snow doesn’t believe they’ll ever stop the Evil Queen and they won’t be able to protect their unborn daughter, but Charming tells her she needs to get some rest. Snow steps out on the balcony for a bit of air and looks up into the stars as she wishes for what they need to protect their baby.
Snow wakes the following morning to a songbird tweeting away in her bedroom. As she says hello to it, she’s totally confused when everything she says comes out in song. “A rhythm stirs deep inside my soul…I’m saying things in ways I can’t control!” sings Snow. Charming busts in singing about a spell or a curse, and then he embraces his surprisingly good singing voice. Now a duet, Snow figures out it’s because of the wish she made on a star. She also decides to embrace this quirky spell, believing it might help them fight the Evil Queen. “Cause love expressed through song is a weapon like the Queen has never seen,” she sings, determinedly.
Charming and Snow sing about love being the most powerful magic of all. Servants join in as Snow and Charming dance about the room, saying lines that end in rhymes are sublime. They believe this magic can defeat potions and schemes, and end with a kiss.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Zelena (Rebecca Mader) share in Emma’s joy when she removes Snow’s wedding dress from the box. However, their joy is short-lived when the dress transforms from white to black. The Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) shows up to spoil everything, and now they know Rumple lied about killing her. The Black Fairy’s still positive she and Emma need to fight, although she offers to take Emma’s heart now to save her from going through the final battle. Emma doesn’t take her up on that offer, so the Black Fairy advises her to go to the clock tower to see what she’s up against. No matter what, there will be a final battle declares the Black Fairy.
Snow, Regina, Zelena, and Emma find a huge orb filled with black fairy dust hanging in the air in the clock tower. It’s set to release the dust at exactly 6pm, the same time as Emma and Hook’s wedding. Emma wants to fight her now, but no one thinks that’s a good idea. Regina believes she and Zelena can disable this fairy dust bomb before it explodes. Regina’s determined to give Emma a happy wedding after ruining Snow and Charming’s.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, the Evil Queen is none too pleased to be singing out her thoughts. The Evil Queen thinks this new development is hellish and deranged, and the Magic Mirror reveals this is a powerful curse that won’t be easily broken. She becomes more and more enraged as she sees the townsfolk singing happy tunes, including the dwarves who are apparently really into their little ditty. Watching Snow and Charming enjoying themselves pushes the Evil Queen over the edge and she sings about love’s magic spell being unable to match her power, even throwing in a few sexy dance moves as she gets into her song. “Once I loved and once I learned. Love is weakness that will leave you burned,” sings the Evil Queen. She kicks the dwarves around while declaring love doesn’t stand a chance. Then she visits Geppetto and Granny, taking her anger out on whatever’s around. And here comes the Evil Queen’s zinger … “Stole my shot at one true love, that’s what she did to me. Now that little bitch will wish she never ever knew me!”
And now we check in with Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) who’s staring intently at the suit he’ll be wearing at the wedding. David wonders if Hook’s not happy about it since it’s not leather and Emma pops in to hear him answer, “Do you think Emma will be disappointed if I don’t wear it?” Emma doesn’t mind if he chooses a different outfit and when Hook jokes about it being bad luck to see the bride, the mood quickly shifts as Emma’s deadly serious when she asks her dad to step out of the room. Emma reveals Rumple lied and the Black Fairy is about to unleash a curse that will force her into fighting the final battle alone. Hook realizes Emma’s there to say goodbye and she refuses to let him help her because she doesn’t want the Black Fairy to hurt anyone she loves. He begs her to let him help, but she doesn’t back down. Emma says a quick I love you and then leaves. The two don’t even share what could be one final kiss.
Once more to the Enchanted Forest we go and Prince Charming and Snow White enter a bar looking for the captain of the Jolly Roger. They’re willing to pay him to take them to the Evil Queen, offering him gold and jewels. And now we get to hear Captain Hook deliver a catchy song about sending them off the plank. He claims to be all about revenge and cares nothing for jewels. “I’ve savaged and pillaged and pilfered each village. My conquests I’m justly proud of,” sings Hook (Colin has a good singing voice!) after being asked by Snow about the revenge he’s seeking. “Each town that I plunder I leave torn asunder, a pirate’s life is one to love.” He sings that they’re wasting their time because all he wants to do is skin a Croc and tear out his spine.
Snow and Charming figure out Hook’s singing about the Dark One, who just happens to be locked up in their dungeon. If Hook gives them passage to see the Evil Queen, they’ll give him the Croc. Deal struck, Hook and his pirate crew revive their song but now he’s in a better mood because revenge is going to be his.
Returning to Storybrooke, Hook confronts Rumple about betraying Emma – and everyone. Rumple doesn’t expect Hook to understand, and he’s right. Hook shoots him with a dart full of dreamshade, a substance that nearly killed Rumple once before. Hook’s plan is to knock out Rumple so he can’t help the Black Fairy who just happens to show up right then to warn Hook Rumple’s not the only one he should worry about.
Emma goes through her desk at work, putting her things in order. Henry (Jared Gilmore) arrives and, surprisingly, he tells her she’s doing the right thing. “The final battle…it’s why I brought you to Storybrooke in the first place,” says Henry. He believes in her and she’s thankful for his support. Among her belongings is the tape recorder and tape from when she was a child preparing for the singing competition. It begins playing and Emma immediately shuts it off.
Regina and Zelena are researching how to stop the Black Fairy’s curse, and Regina’s frustrated she can’t figure it out. Zelena says there must be something Regina learned long ago that she can use against her this time, and the word “time” sparks an idea. Regina remembers the first curse stopped time, so she’s hopeful she can isolate that part of the spell and stop the curse from happening.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, the Evil Queen confronts Rumple demanding he help her find a way to break the Charmings’ curse. She yells, “Now sing!” and Rumple does a little twirl and then laughs. The Dark One does not sing, saying he’d rather gouge his eyes out. He taunts her with the possibility of a student who was more talented than she was, and sends her off to visit Zelena.
Zelena is next up with a musical number about Rumple and the pain she felt when he chose Regina over her. She’s practically giddy with the prospect of Regina’s life falling apart. She grabs her broom and soars over Oz, singing about smiling while Regina is crying. “Evil may be powerful, but wicked always wins,” she sings. “What they call green with envy, I just call looking good!” But then she has an idea – she’ll give Regina something to take the Charmings down. After her spell works, she’ll reveal to Rumple she’s the one he should have picked.
Once more to modern Storybrooke we go and Regina’s come up with the spell she thinks will work against the Black Fairy. Snow and David are happy Emma won’t have to fight the Black Fairy alone, but then Rumple shows up and snatches the bottle out of Regina’s hands. He says, “This was made to freeze the curse. I wonder how well it’s going to work on people?”
Emma shows up at Regina’s office and confronts the Black Fairy, saying they shouldn’t wait and instead should start the final battle now. The Black Fairy waves her hand and Snow, David, Regina, Hook, and Zelena appear in the room, frozen in time. Emma tries to use her magic and attack but nothing happens. The Black Fairy claims Emma’s magic’s not working because Emma has faced the truth and knows she can’t battle her alone. Emma runs from the room, leaving her motionless family and friends behind.
Emma heads back to the sheriff’s office and Henry assures her no matter what she’s not alone. She remembers that as a child every time something big came along, she bolted. She tells Henry she wasn’t brave enough to keep him, and he reminds her she’s changed. He says she’s the Savior and is strong enough to do this on her own. Emma realizes the only way to win is if she gives the Black Fairy her heart. Henry says it’s not how the book is supposed to end, but Emma believes this is the only option.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, Snow and Charming confront the Evil Queen, demanding she come with them. They reprise their song from the opening of the episode. The Evil Queen also reprises her musical number after her magic misses its target. It’s a battle of Snow and Charming’s happy tune versus the Evil Queen’s darker rock number, and then the Evil Queen whips out Zelena’s spell box and robs Snow and Charming of their singing voices. Now that the world is back to normal, the Evil Queen believes she won. She tells the Charmings to enjoy their short time left as a family and sends them away.
Snow and Charming wonder what happened and the Blue Fairy arrives, confirming she granted Snow’s wish. She also tells them the songs remain inside them, but they weren’t meant to use the song’s magic against the Evil Queen. Everyone’s songs were meant to help Emma have her happy ending, and the Blue Fairy then places them in Emma’s heart. “One day she will face a battle like no one has ever faced before,” explains the Blue Fairy. “And I’m afraid she will have to face it alone.” Snow realizes that what Blue has done means Emma will not be alone after all. Blue declares everyone will forget they sang come the morning, and that will keep the songs safe in Emma’s heart. “We will just have to hope that they find their way to the surface when she needs them the most,” adds Blue.
In Storybrooke, Henry is staring at a blank page in the book and Emma’s old tape recorder is right next to him. Frustrated that he can’t figure out a new ending, he tosses the book off the desk, unveiling a new drawing of the Blue Fairy pointing her wand at Snow’s unborn baby with Charming looking on. Henry realizes Emma is not alone now nor has she ever been alone.
Emma returns to face the Black Fairy, telling her to let her family go and she’ll give her her heart. The Black Fairy agrees and before her family is unfrozen, Emma apologizes to Hook and gently kisses him. The Black Fairy is ecstatic she’s getting her happy ending and Emma tells her to just get on with it. She yanks Emma’s heart out but Emma doesn’t die. The Black Fairy’s angry and confused, and Emma’s heart falls to the floor unharmed. Henry barges in and says his mother’s heart is incredibly strong. He shows Emma the drawing and tells her she doesn’t need to be afraid and that the songs have always been inside her. He plays the tape of her singing as a child and says, “It’s not your weakness, it’s your strength.”
Now it’s Emma’s turn to use a song to fight evil. As she sings her voice gets stronger. The Black Fairy’s magic is useless against her and Emma sings about her family’s bravery and her destiny to be the Savior. Her light magic is almost able to break the spell trapping her family, and she continues to sing. She strokes Hook’s face and belts out, “The answer was inside me with a song!” Her family is freed and Henry puts Emma’s heart back where it belongs. The Black Fairy hasn’t given up and tells Emma her curse is still coming and the final battle will be “worse than you can imagine.”
Hugs all around and tears well up in Emma’s eyes as she tells her mom and dad they were with her her whole life. She hugs Hook next and the scene transforms to an outdoor wedding at sunset, set up on main street. Hook’s in black rather than the white suit that was originally picked out, and everyone looks incredibly happy. Henry hands over the rings and now it’s just Hook at the altar waiting for his bride. She walks down the aisle accompanied by her mother and father who are beaming with pride. David plants a kiss on her check and then Snow does before Emma takes her place next to Hook.
Dr. Hopper is officiating and Hook tells his bride, “You showed me that a heart full of love was the most precious treasure of all. One that I don’t intend to lose.” He places the ring on Emma’s finger and tells her his heart belongs to her. Emma says that just because she came from true love didn’t mean she thought she’d ever find it. “Thanks to you, now I have,” says Emma, placing the ring on Hook’s finger. Dr. Hopper pronounces them man and wife and the kiss is long and romantic, with Hook dipping his wife at the end.
“You did it, Swan. You got your happy ending,” says Hook while holding his wife tight. “That’s not what this is. It’s something else,” she replies. “A happy beginning.”
Emma and Hook sing to each other while slow dancing, telling each other they have everything they need. “And happily ever after is the way these stories go,” they sing, combining their voices. Snow and David are up next, followed by Regina and Zelena. Even Henry gets to sing a line as the wedding party and guests rise and join the dance. It’s a very sweet, well-deserved scene of sheer joyfulness. So, of course, it’s suddenly interrupted by the bell tolling in the clock tower and the release of the Black Fairy’s curse. It weaves its way toward the townspeople, but Emma now believes it doesn’t matter where they end up because they are going to win this battle.
(‘The Song in Your Heart’ was written by David H. Goodman and Andrew Chambliss and directed by Ron Underwood. Songs by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Mark Isham is the composer for the show.)
More on Once Upon a Time:
– Once Upon a Time Season 6 Finale Recap
– Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 19 ‘The Black Fairy’ Recap
– Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 18 ‘Where Bluebirds Fly’ Recap
– Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 17 ‘Awake’ Recap
– Once Upon a Time Season 6 Episode 16 ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ Recap