In present-day Storybrooke, Charming is trying to keep Henry at a safe distance from his search for a portal to L'enchantement because magic always comes with a price. Henry is hurt, but not deterred from his goal of joining the quest to find Emma and Snow. First, he hits up Jefferson, but our Mad Hatter insists he can be of no use. Jefferson is so overcome with guilt for leaving Grace in order to help Regina that he can't even bring himself to face his own daughter, never mind help someone else's little boy. He suggests Henry ask Regina, and lets slip that Regina has magical objects hidden in a vault. Before leaving, Henry tries to persuade Jefferson that while it might be hard to face Grace, it will hurt her much more -- and for the rest of her life -- if he doesn't. After all, he's been left, too. He points out that Grace will spend her life wondering why Jefferson left. Not knowing is the worst. Anything is better than nothing. Pass the tissues, please.
Henry seemingly takes Jefferson's advice and makes a date to meet Regina at Granny's. It's just a diversion, though. Once Regina leaves her office, Henry sneaks in and steals her keyring. He finds the vault under Regina's father's grave and goes down to investigate. Regina's heart collection beats again, thanks, I guess, to the fact that magic has returned to town. Henry uses another key to open a box, but it contains the two-headed Agrabahn viper that killed his biological great-grandfather. But never fear, Charming swoops in and rescues his grandson. Redemption watch: it is thanks to Regina that Charming knows Henry has gone rogue.
Later, Henry sits in Emma's VW Bug and watches as Jefferson finally musters up the courage to approach Grace. Okay, so Jefferson looks more than a little creepy stalking a bus full of school children, but once he calls out Grace's name, it gets better. She turns, cries, "Papa" and rushes into his embrace. May I please have a tissue? Poor little Henry looks on, his happiness for them on makes his own loneliness more acute. But...YES! It's Charming to the rescue, again. Charming tells Henry he can't get Snow and Emma back without his grandson's help, so he's bought some play swords to can teach Henry how to fence. Oh heck, please pass the whole box of tissues. Across the way, King George Charles Widmore watches the man who refused to be his son training his grandson in the fine arts of heroic princery. Dun dun dun!
In the Enchanted Past, Charming, Snow, Red and crew want to take back the kingdom. Red, just back from scouting duty, reports that King George Charles Widmore has a new secret weapon -- they call him the Leviathan. The Leviathan turns out to be the now disgraced Sir Lancelot (Sinqa Walls, of Teen Wolf). When the King's men attack Charming's camp, Charming tells Snow to flee to the cabin where his mother is hidden. Since they're to be married, it's time she met Mama Ruth, anyhow. Lancelot captures Snow before she's even out of earshot and brings her to the King. The King gives a sob story about how his own wife was cursed to be barren, and now, because Charming humiliated the King by refusing to stand in for James, the King wants Charming to know the same pain he suffered. The drink he had Lancelot give Snow has cursed her with infertility.
When the King's men dump Snow on the side of the road, Lancelot finds her. He is horrified that the King used him toward such evil ends and wants to redeem himself. He will take her to meet Charming. Skeptical, Snow refuses, thinking Lancelot is just using her to find Charming. Lancelot tells her the King already knows that Charming is meeting his mother at her not-so-secret location and has men on the way -- to kill Ruth.
Charming is talking to his mother when he hears trouble approaching. He orders Ruth to go inside and bolt the door. Four knights are no match for our would-be Prince, but sadly, his mother doesn't know how to follow directions and during the scuffle is struck in the chest with an arrow. Snow and Lance arrive. Lance determines the arrow is poisoned. They decide to take Ruth to Lake Nostros in hopes that its magical waters will heal her. When they get there, the lake has dried up, and darn the luck, it's probably because Charming killed the Siren. Lance, who grew up near a lake, searches until he finds but a few drops of water in a shell. Charming gives it to his mother.
Although Charming doesn't know about the King cursing Snow to be infertile, Snow had earlier confessed it to Ruth. Ruth wants Snow to drink the water, but Snow refuses, so Ruth fakes drinking it. When she isn't immediately healed, they decide the water didn't work after all and she mentions that she wishes only that she could have lived long enough to see Charming marry Snow. Lancelot is a disgraced Knight of the Round Table, but still has marrying credentials, I guess, so he performs the ceremony, during which he has Snow and Charming drink from a cup. Of course thanks to a little sleight of hand from Ruth and Lance, Snow gets the healing water, and she's all fertile again. Tissues, please.
In the Enchanted present, Cora lies to Emma that she no longer has magic and claims she just wants to help Emma and Snow return to Storybrooke. Fortunately, Snow White regains consciousness and explains to Emma that Cora is Dr. Frankenstein to the monstrous Regina. Emma's not comfortable with Snow taking charge, and like her late paternal grandmother, needs to work on her listening skills. Soon, our ladies are summoned by the Haven's leader. It is Lancelot. He will allow Snow and Emma to leave the haven and return to Snow's castle, provided they accept Mulan as their escort.
Aurora says she wants justice for Phillip's death, but she really wants vengeance. Mulan's attempts to reason with her fall on deaf ears. Aurora follows Snow, Emma and Mulan and tries to slit Snow's throat. Snow gets the best of her, but it freaks out Emma, who fires a warning shot, which alerts the nearby ogres to our party's presence. Snow saves Emma from an ogre and gains some respect from her prickly daughter.
At the castle, Emma and Snow find the wardrobe is still in Emma's nursery -- which now lies in ruin. They determine it no longer has any magic, without even getting in and giving a shot. Lancelot arrives. He heard of the ogre attack and wanted to make sure they were okay, but when he mistakenly mentions getting Snow and Emma back home to Henry, the jig is up. Emma only mentioned Henry's name to Cora. Snow puts herself between her daughter and the knight, who morphs back into the witch. Emma sets the wardrobe afire. Mulan rushes in to the rescue, so Cora poofs away, which, given her power, seems silly. I'll hit that in the full recap.
Our time in L'enchantement ends with Emma confessing her years of resentment. But her time at the castle has helped her realize how much Snow sacrificed for her and continues to do so. She sobs that she's not used to someone putting her first. Snow hugs her and tells her to get used to it. As they leave the castle, Snow takes one last look at the nursery and in her mind's eye, sees it in its former glory. She weeps for what could never be, then takes her leave. My heart breaks, but I don't have time to wallow because Cora returns and scoops up ashes from the once-magical wardrobe. Dun dun dun!
What a beautiful, painful episode. I've only watched once so far, but I'm tempted to say it's the best of the first three. This series is strongest when it wears its heart on its sleeve, and I am a sucker for heart. I'll be back with the whole story in the full recap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we're trying to learn how to be the grandchildren of a prince.
Previously, on Once Upon A Time, magic returns to Storybrooke. It's different there, though. The Charmings chase the Chintz Monster into Jefferson's hat, but Chintzy grabs Emma on his way down. Unwilling to lose her daughter again, Snow jumps in after. Charming tells Henry he will find the ladies. (He will always find them.) Mulan and Aurora capture Snow and Emma and bring them to L'enchantement's haven (possibly Neverland) and throw them down into a pit, where Regina's evil mother, Cora, lies in wait. Currently, on Once Upon A Time, we open on the...
Enchanted Past. Night. Red races to Charming's camp. She finds him and Snow and their War Council, in his tent. They are strategizing, and Charming is babbling about King George Charles Widmore and his forces. Red: "We have to move camp. They're coming for us." Charming: "No. We will not run. We said we were going to take the kingdom back, and we can't do that with our tails between our legs." Charming takes a beat and looks sheepishly at Red. "No offense." Heh.
Red tells him things are worse than they know. Charles Widmore has a new general -- the Leviathan. "They say he attacks like a monster, striking from the depths of the sea. You never see him coming, and you never survive." So he's a toddler, then? As soon Snow ask how close his army is, an arrow lands smack dab in the middle of Charming's map table. Someone get me a trajectory report, because I just don't buy how that happened. They're in a tent. Sure, the flap is open, but the arrow's arc just seems impossible. Cool visuals are only cool if they don't make the viewer scratch his or her head and say, "Wait a gosh darned moment..." I love this episode. What I don't love is being taken out of it even before the title card.
Anyhow, outside, there's general chaos (digression: I covered How I Met Your Mother for a couple of seasons, so right now, Robin and Ted are saluting General Chaos, in my head). Snow suggests they all split up and divide Widmore's forces. Charming agrees and gives his warriors their orders, then tells Snow to run. In two days time, they'll meet at the cabin in which his mother is hiding. Snow's a little worried about meeting Ruth, but Charming notes it's high time, since they're engaged and all. I should say so! My parents would have been so hurt if I got engaged to someone they'd never even met. Let's hope Ruth takes it better.