"Tougher Than the Rest" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the one-hundredth and twenty-second episode of the series overall. It aired on March 5, 2017. It was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and directed by Billy Gierhart.
With Snow still asleep in Storybrooke, David and Hook race to stop Gideon before he can confront Emma. Gideon makes a startling confession to Belle and Gold about his whereabouts while he was missing. Meanwhile, Regina struggles with the realization that everyone, perhaps even Robin, is better off in the alternate world where the Evil Queen was defeated. And when Emma inspires a familiar face to help her and Regina return home, she discovers the power to change her fate.
An enchanted tree from the Wish realm is featured in the forest.
In the character's past
In the Wish Realm
After they miss the opportunity to escape back to Storybrooke, Emma and Regina are forced to hand over their items to Robin, whom Regina believes is real although Emma says otherwise. When they hear horses coming, Robin escapes but Emma and Regina are now hiding from Prince Henry, who believes Regina is still the Evil Queen. Afterwards, Emma comes across Pinocchio and after explaining that they're from another realm they come up with a plan to build a magical portal so they can return home. Regina, on the other hand, decided to find out about the Wish realm Robin, and tracked him down to his tavern. While there, she asked Robin if he would’ve been better off if she had never pursued him, only to have their conversation interrupted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and are placed in jail. Regina discovers that Marian in this realm has passed away and Robin is unhappy; in this realm, Robin is a wanted thief as he keeps everything he steals instead of giving it to the poor. Suddenly the Wish realm Rumplestiltskin arrived and frees them, but instead of Rumplestiltskin returning the favor for freeing her after she did the.same for him, Regina finds herself at Rumplestiltskin's custody because in this realm she had Belle killed. Regina tells Robin that where she came from the real Robin was murdered. Robin agreed to help Regina escape and they do.
Meanwhile, Emma and Pinocchio start working on the ingredients needed to create the portal, when they come across a Wish realm version of Hook, except this one is a alcoholic and wants to start fights. As Emma uses her magic to send him back to his ship, Hook accidentally breaks one of Pinocchio’s magical tools. Pinocchio gives Emma a present, which turned out to be a wooden figure of a swan, similar to the one Emma saw in the “The Ugly Duckling" in the flashback, and learned that he is the same man who helped her get off the street decades ago. Pinocchio wanted Emma to know that because of him inspiring her, Emma has inspired him now to embrace the magic within. After Pinocchio finished the portal, Emma and Regina are ready, with the latter bringing Robin with her. As Robin gives Regina a feather similar to the one the real Robin was about to give her before he died, Regina believed that the real Robin's spirit still lives in this Robin. The threesome enter the portal and returned to Storybrooke.
At the Pawn Shop, Gideon explains to Belle and Gold about how he was raised by the Black Fairy, but he resisted turning dark on his own will, although he still plans to kill Emma because her powers as a Savior are the only way to kill his grandmother and he needs the resources. Hours later in the woods, Gold meets with Gideon to offer his help, but Gideon refuses upon being provoked by Gold to attack him. At the loft, David explained to Snow that until the threat is over he won't wake her up. Belle shows up at the loft to tell David about Gideon being the one who'll kill Emma, and is hoping they can come up with a plan to stop it.
As Emma returned to Storybrooke, the vision is about to be played out, and as expected is suddenly approached by Gideon; the two start their sword fight as Emma’s family and friends arrived to stop them, but Gideon freezes them so they can duel. Emma gains the upper hand by placing a knife at his throat, only to have Gideon end the battle by disappearing until they meet again. Hours later, Emma meets up with August to ask him about their past encounter in Minnesota, and discovered that he was keeping tabs on her to keep her safe. Meanwhile, Gold tells Belle that Gideon isn't after Emma nor trying to kill her, and the two agree to help their son, who in the wake of ending his battle with Emma earlier, takes his frustrations out by destroying the face of the clock tower. Emma kept her blue box with pages of "The Ugly Duckling", to Pinocchio while he types the stories at the house.
- In Season 7, its revealed that the Wish Realm version of Hook that Emma meets in this episode is not what Hook would become from his lifestyle of drinking rum. Hook's bumbling behavior and beer gut where from years of drowning sorrow over not being able to be with his daughter.
- Contrary to what everyone in the show believes, the Wish Realm is not isolated from the realms that came before it. The Magical Forest appears to be reachable by sailing.