Enchanted Present. Team Princess argues over who should accompany Hook up the beanstalk. Aurora wants to go, because she has nothing left to lose. Snow and Mulan each think they're better suited. Emma, however, wants to get back to her kid, so she insists it's her journey to make. Hook explains the beanstalk is enchanted to repel intruders, but Cora has given him two magic bracelets that will make the climb possible. Supposedly, one bracelet is for Hook, and the other is for Cora. Nobody calls Hook out on this detail, but why in the world would Cora give Hook her bracelet? Clearly, this is a setup.
Up above the clouds, Hook and Emma meet up with the Giant, played by Lost's Jorge Garcia. And yes, I'll be calling him Hurley (and occasionally Hugo) because the character doesn't have a name, and I can't not call him Hurley. While Hook distracts Hurley, Emma knocks him out with sleeping powder that she got from Mulan. It's made of poppies, which surprises me because I thought the show burnt through all its Oz references last week.
Hugo wakes back up before Emma and Hook find the compass. He storms towards the thieves, which causes part of the ceiling to collapse right on top of Hook. Emma manages to capture Hurley in one of his own traps. He assumes she'll kill him, because contrary to what she's heard, it's humans who are vicious killers, not giants. Emma explains she just needs the compass. When Hurley gives it to her, and she doesn't kill him, he is touched, which is really sort of sad. Emma asks her new friend to do her a solid and keep Hook captive for ten hours, to give Team Princess a head start.
Back on the ground, Snow tries to help Aurora, who has been plagued by nightmares ever since waking from the sleeping curse. Snow knows from sleeping curses and tells Aurora how Charming used to light a candle for her to keep away her nightmares. She promises to watch over Aurora while she sleeps. When Aurora's sleep is disturbed, Snow wakes her. Aurora recounts her nightmare: She's trapped in a red room. There are neither doors nor windows, just blood red curtains -- and they're afire. She's huddled in a corner, but there's someone else in the room. He's looking at her from the shadows. Snow calms Aurora and she finally falls back to sleep.
Mulan has been busy watching the sun's progress. Before Emma left, she said that if she didn't return in ten hours, Mulan should chop down the beanstalk and find another way to return Snow to Storybrooke. When Mulan tries to make good on her word, Snow tackles her and makes it clear she will do anything to protect her daughter. Their fight doesn't last too long because Emma tumbles of the beanstalk, tells Team Princess about their head start and says it's time to hit the road. Snow wraps Emma in a fierce embrace and insists that they stick together and return to Storybrooke together.
Portland, Oregon. Unenchanted Past. Emma's VW Bug is ill-gotten gains. Slim Jim and screwdriver in hand, she steals it, only to find the guy who stole it just before she did, is napping in the backseat. It's the mysterious stranger, and his name is Neal Cassidy (not Neal Cassady).
After Neal saves Emma from the fuzz, they fall in love. The couple survives on petty theft, but Neal is a wanted man. He'd like to fence the high-end watches he stole a while back, take the money -- and Emma -- and start all over. Emma's down with this plan and chooses Tallahassee as their destination. Perhaps she wants to enroll in Anthony Cooper's Con Artist College?
Because there are wanted posters featuring Neal's face, Emma retrieves the watches from the storage locker where Neal stashed them. When he goes to fence them, he's jumped by August, who tells him Emma has a destiny and Neal cannot keep her from it. To convince Neal, August shows him something in his wooden box. Whatever it is, I'm thinking it's not his antique typewriter because Neal is immediately convinced to cooperate.
Neal drops a dime on Emma. She gets arrested for the watch theft and does 11 months in a minimum security facility in Phoenix, which is where she discovers she's pregnant. While in the clink, Emma gets mail from Phuket. It's a swan keychain that Neal stole for her one time when they were shop lifting. Hanging from it are the keys to the VW Bug. Emma's a little distracted, though, because while the matron is showing her the keys, Emma's staring at the positive pregnancy test in her hands.
Storybrooke. Present. Henry wakes from a nightmare. Charming lights a candle to keep the bad dreams at bay, as Henry tells him all about it. He's in a red room. There are neither doors nor windows, just blood red curtains -- and they're afire. He's huddled in a corner, but there's someone else in the room. She's looking at him through the flames.
"Tallahassee" is a fun episode. There's great chemistry between Hook and Emma in the present. I watch a lot of shows in which characters get injured, but I haven't seen many wound-tending scenes hotter than when Hook bandaged Emma's hand. There's a good deal of chemistry between Neal and Emma, which is good because it helps me forget how young she's supposed to be in these scenes. Even in her cute, geeky glasses and her hair high in a ponytail, it's hard to buy that Emma is only 17 or 18 years old. Don't get me wrong, Jennifer Morrison is a fine-looking young woman, but after 22 or so, most people cannot pass for 17. Seriously, I remember my fifth-year high school reunion. The changes were jarring. Still, I'm grateful we finally got to watch some of Emma's backstory instead of just hearing about it. I'm glad Henry's father loves Emma and that he left her because he thought it was the right thing to do. It's great to see August, too, even if he's still screwing with Emma's life. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy him. Is this the start of a love trapezoid? You know, Show, you could bring back Graham and make it a love pentagon. I'm just saying.
I don't usually mind the special effects in the Enchanted lands. I wish that was true this week, but alas, my mind screams "GREEN SCREEN" during every scene in Hurley's treasure room. Seeing Jorge Garcia back on my TV made up for it, though.
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 Hook is tending to our wounds.
Previously on Once Upon A Time, Killian Jones becomes Captain Hook and sworn enemies with Rumpy. In a bid to keep Cora from Storybrooke and Henry, Emma destroys the enchanted wardrobe. Team Princess reluctantly joins forces with Captain Hook in hopes of locating a magical compass which could be their ticket back to Maine. Regina tells Emma she knows her gadabout history, and asks what she so enjoyed about Tallahassee. Henry eats the sleeping cursed apple tart that Regina means for Emma. Emma kisses him back to life. In New York, we meet a mysterious stranger, and badinaging birds totally become a thing.
Currently on Once Upon A Time, we open in the Enchanted Present. Hook leads Team Princess to a ginormous beanstalk that grows up through the clouds. Mulan: "It reminds me of death." Snow: "Encouraging." Recapper: "Isn't it time for Mulan to die, yet?" Speaking for me, Emma asks why they can't just pick a portal-opening bean and go home. Per Hook, all the beans are gone. "Whatever story you think you know, my dear, is almost certainly wrong." Emma spews out what she remembers of Jack and the Beanstalk. Hook says while it's a lovely tale, the truth is more gruesome. He says the giants grew the beans, and used them to plunder all the lands. Jack fought a terrible war and defeated all but one of the giants. As they died, the giants destroyed the beans. If they couldn't have the magic, then nobody could. Hook: "It's really very bad form." One of my childhood friends (yeah, this one) was like that. One time, we went to the store together. She got a big bag of pretzels. When she didn't want to finish them, I asked if I could have some. She said no, and lied that her mother didn't like her to do stuff like that, and then threw the bag away in a public trashcan. No, really. Anyhow, where was I? Bad form. Right.
Emma wonders why anyone hasn't climbed up the beanstalk and grown some more magic portal beans. Hook tells her the remaining giant is the strongest and most terrible of them all. They'll have to get past him to find the compass amidst all the treasure. Thanks to the enchanted wardrobe ashes, Cora has the means to open a portal, but can't find Storybrooke without the compass. Hook says once they get the compass, they'll snatch the ashes from Cora and be on their way. Mulan asks why they shouldn't just think Hook is using them to get the compass for Cora. Hook says since all he needs is a ride back, and Team Princess is far safer company than the Mother of All Evil, he'll swear allegiance to the side that gets him there first. Their first challenge is that the beanstalk is enchanted to repel intruders. Luckily, he has a counter-spell from Cora. As Snow frees the Captain's hands, she stares him down like the lioness she is. Hook gets too close and thanks her so flirtatiously that I'm surprised there isn't a twink sound effect.