In the Enchanted Past, all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men fail to get Snow White in custody again. Frustrated, Regina turns to Rumpelstiltskin. She wants him to teach her to shape shift so she can catch an unaware Snow and kill her. Regina thinks Snow's death will make the people love her (Regina), despite the fact that she just ordered the slaughter of an entire village simply because none of the villagers would give up Snow. The thinking here is so deluded, I can't even deal with it now.
Rumpy says it takes a long time to perfect shape shifting magic. Instead of teaching Regina, he will transform her into a peasant girl. There's only one drawback: while in this form, Regina will, just like a peasant girl, have no magic. I guess there are two drawbacks. Regina must rely on Rumpy to restore her to her powerful, evil glory.
A hot minute into Regina's cockamamie Impostor Peasant Plan, she is arrested by her own Queen's guard. They're about to decapitate her, when she is rescued by an unwitting Snow White. Snow sneaks Regina (who calls herself "Wilma") to one of her woodland hideouts, tends her wound, treats her fever and confides in her about how Regina once saved her life.
Once "Wilma" is healed, she and Snow must go back on the run. Soon after Snow declares to a touched "Wilma" that she still believes there is good in Regina's heart and hopes they can once again be a loving family, they stumble upon the rotting corpses of Regina's most recent victims. Snow takes back everything she said. Regina is beyond hope.
Snow soon realizes "Wilma" is Regina. Regina tries to throw some magic at Snow, but when she remembers she is powerless, she calls for Rumpelstiltskin instead. Unfortunately, for Regina, while Rumpy told her to call upon him, he never guaranteed he'd answer. Still, Regina's only dealing with Snow, who at this time in her life doesn't have it in her to kill even her mortal enemy, so Regina runs away and straight to Rumpy's estate, where he eventually restores her looks, magic and, most importantly, her wardrobe.
Storybrooke. Present. Emma bumps into Tamara at Granny's. When the latter woman spills her purse, Emma notices she has a cheat sheet listing the key Storybrookers' Fairy Tale Identities. Emma doesn't let on that she's seen it, but she does point out to Tamara that it would be terrible for her people if the outside world knew the truth about them. When Tamara swears that she's trustworthy, the writers throw Emma a bone and let her lie detection "superpower" work.
Back at home, Emma tells Snow that she suspects Tamara is the woman August tried to warn them about. Speaking for a frustrated audience, Snow points out that Emma's superpower is less than reliable, especially when she's emotional. Emma swears this has nothing to do with Neal, as she is so very far and much and totally and completely way over him, for absolute sure. Once an unconvinced Snow leaves, Henry reveals that he's been listening all along, and he wants in on Emma's investigation.
While Emma breaks into Neal and Tamara's room, Henry stands sentry. Just as she finds a loosened floorboard, Neal strolls toward the room. As a warning, Henry bumps into the door, just like Emma taught him. The problem is Neal taught Emma that move. Neal opens his room to a cringing Emma. I think she's cringing, but I'm cringing so hard for her, I could be getting transfer-y.
I have to watch from the hallway, as Emma assures Neal this has nothing to do with the fact that Tamara is his girlfriend. She's only investigating Tamara because of August's incomplete warning. I want to reach through the screen and wipe the smirk off Neal's face, but I'm still out in my hallway, cringing, and my arms aren't that long. Neal allows Emma to lift the floorboard. There's nothing hidden underneath, so a humiliated Emma cringes her way out of the room with Henry in tow. The upside is, Henry still believes in Emma, which he reveals as they drown their sorrows in ice cream.
In other news, Tamara and Greg/Owen enlist Hook in their plan to trap Regina. Hooks tells Regina they're out to get her, undoubtedly so that he can double-cross whoever looks to be the loser. Regina all too quickly accepts Hook's offer of help. Together, they take the library elevator to that pit beneath. They're off to retrieve a failsafe, which in effect reverses the curse. The problem is anyone who remains in Storybrooke will be killed.
Regina notices that Hook is wearing Cora's leather cuff, and she wants it back. Hook pretends he doesn't want to part with it, which makes it all the more attractive to Regina. Eventually, Hook hands over it over, and they head off to find this week's MacGuffin.
Apparently, Maleficent wasn't killed by Emma. She's been magically sustained and is now in some weird, Nazgûl form. Regina isn't as adept as Hook is at hiding and timing her double-cross. She literally tosses the swashbuckler off a cliff and right into Maleficent's path, then scurries off to Snow's glass coffin and retrieves the failsafe.
Meanwhile, above ground, Charming, Snow and Grumpy go out to check on their bean crop. Once they pass through the cloaking barrier, they see the entire crop has been burnt to the ground. Don't worry. Regina kept some for herself, so the beans aren't all gone.
Back on the first floor of the library, Regina is startled to find Hook escaped Nazgûl Maleficent and is working with Tamara and Greg. Owen. Growen? Groan. The cuff that Regina took from Hook is, in actuality, an Inarticulate Explanation The Stupid Audience Should Mistake For Science, and it blocks Regina's magic. Even if she manages to remove the leather, underneath she'll still find some sort of Inarticulate Explanation The Stupid Audience Should Mistake For Science metal. After Groan exchanges words about his father with Regina, he tells Tamara to bag the Evil Queen.
I haven't graded this episode yet, mostly because I'm still cringing for Emma, but also because I'm cringing a little bit for Snow and Regina, too. Regina makes no sense at all. I can't decide if that's the writers' aim or if her characterization is laboring under a few too many layers. I don't want black-and-white heroes and villains, but it was a bit too much to watch her order the slaughter of an entire village one moment, and then watch as she is, in her Wilma disguise, moved to tears while Snow waxes nostalgic about how she once loved Regina and hopes she can again.
Similarly, where the Fairest in the Land is concerned, I can accept that Snow couldn't yet bring herself to shoot an arrow through Regina's heart. That said, the flashbacks in this episode are set prior to the ones in which Snow halted Regina's execution. Snow's mercy could have been sold as mostly personally foolhardy, in that at the time, it was plausible to me that Snow could have seen herself and her dad as Regina's main victims, and could have been ignorant of other casualties. Now it seems much less like foolhardy mercy, and more like criminal negligence on Snow's part. She already knew she was dealing with Hitler, and yet refused to end Regina's reign of terror, to serve this vanity that she is always above reproach.
I hope we get less of Regina's backstory in the coming episodes and seasons because every time we learn more about her, I understand her less. My love of hating her may soon turn into hatred of hating her. She's already so horrible, her taint is getting all over anyone who could have stopped her, and failed to, even and especially our allegedly noble heroes.
I will be back with the full recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we're getting Emma some more ice cream.
Previously, on Once Upon A Time, Hook hooks Gold. With her anti-magic taser, Tamara kills wooden August before he can warn Emma. Snow and Charming show Emma the cloaked bean field. Upon realizing her parents want to return to the Enchanted Forest, Emma is unsettled. Regina finds the field. Tamara brings Hook back to Storybrooke.
Now, on Once Upon A Time, it's nighttime in Storybrooke. Tamara whips the hood off of a still bound Hook's head. She and Greg... Owen... Growen...Groan now have Hook up in the clock tower. Wait, they what? How do you get a bound pirate up in the clock tower, which is right in the town center, without someone noticing it? And to what end? The Contrivance Fairy flies into my office, makes a rather bumpy landing on my desk, and cautions me to have patience. Patience my patootie. I have a fly swatter, and I'm not afraid to use it. The Contrivance Fairy says, "Some people are so touchy," and flies off.
Thinking the duo of dull wants to torture him, Hook eggs on Tamara and Groan. He's surprised to learn that instead, they want to offer him a job. Assuming he's succeeded in killing Gold, Hook announces his bucket list is already complete. Tamara hands him his own telescope and tells the pirate to take a gander at the street below. What fortuitous timing! Hook looks, exactly when Laceybelle and Gold are exiting the Rabbit Hole. The Contrivance Fairy zips back into my office, sits on my head, and says, "Take that!" That's it. I'm getting the fly swatter and maybe some fly paper, too.
Laceybelle is still in the same dress she might as well have swiped from the back of Ruby's closet, so at most, mere hours have passed between "Lacey" and "The Evil Queen." More on that later. Groan rubs it in Hook's face that Gold beat him. Tamara offers that she and Groan know how to kill magical creatures. Groan says the price for their expertise is this: Hook must find Groan's father. We all know the real price, Killian. You have to suffer these fools up close and in person. Groan fills Hook in on his backstory, including the fact that Regina is responsible for Kurt's disappearance, waves Hook's hook in his face, and asks if they have a deal. Wait a damned second, Show. Do you mean to tell me that once they tied him up, neither Emma, Neal, Gold nor Henry -- not one person thought to take Hook's hook? Oh bah. Title card.