UPDATE: In the January 6, 2013, episode ("The Cricket Game"), Emma uses her magic to decode Pongo's memories, which Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) catches in a dreamcatcher. Emma has a little bit of trouble in the beginning, but after a bit of coaxing, she successfully sees what Pongo sees. Given that it didn't take much for Emma to finally get the job done, we think her powers are capable of a lot more than parlor tricks. A match for Cora somewhere down the line? Oh, yes. We think so.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: We've headed into the interminable Once Upon a Time Season 2 winter hiatus — the show doesn't return until January 6, boo! — which means it's time to get our speculation on.
Today, we want to ponder a question that is on every OUAT fan's mind: What exactly are Emma's (Jennifer Morrison) magical powers, if any?
There is definitely canon evidence that she has some sort of powers. Most explicitly, on Season 2, Episode 9: “Queen of Hearts,” Emma blocked Cora's (Barbara Hershey) heart-stealing powers, and then blasted her with some sort of magic. Or something.
More subtly, on Season 2, Episode 1: “Broken,” Regina's (Lana Parrilla) powers didn't work until Emma grabbed her arm, appearing to "jump-start" her in some way. And throughout Season 1, Emma always claimed to have the "superpower" of telling when someone is lying. Obviously, she didn't believe it was a real power at the time, but maybe there was more to it than good instincts.
And, of course, there's that whole "savior" thing.
In Episode 9, Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) explained to Emma that he isn't the one who made her the savior.
"I merely took advantage of what you are," he explained. "The product of True Love. That's why you're powerful, and everything you've done, you've done yourself." And yes, that includes repelling Cora's attack.
So, what exactly are Emma's powers? Mr. Gold's comments suggest that whatever they are, they spring from the power of her parents' love.
Because Emma's powers come from her birth, we're guessing they're going to operate differently than the other magic we've seen. We're thinking that her power won't corrupt in the same way Regina's (Lana Parrilla) magic does. She doesn't seem to need Fairy Dust, and her powers don't come from a curse.
So far, everything Emma's done has been instinctual: Blocking Cora and restarting Regina's powers (if that is what happened) came naturally during moments of intense duress. Emma's powers are protecting her without her knowing how — a common theme in stories about magic, and especially in stories about magic that is based on love.
Will she ever be able to harness those powers in a more controlled way? We're hoping the answer is yes, though it might take Emma some time to warm up to the idea. However, we can't really see her ever casting spells in the casual way Regina or Rumple might. If we had to hazard a guess, we'd say Emma will one day be able to do certain big things that almost no one else can, but she probably won't be conjuring cupcakes out of thin air for no reason.
What do you think will happen with Emma's powers? What form do you think they will take? Let us know in the comments below!
Once Upon a Time Season 2 returns on Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.
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