Storybrooke. The episode opens in August's room. He's still wooden, but he blinks those blue eyes, so we know he's alive, and that's all we're going to get of him, this week. Sorry, folks.
Since they now remember that they are Snow White's royal guard, the Seven Dwarfs venture out to the town line, to see what, if anything, happens to Storybrookers when they try to leave. Sneezy draws the short straw. When he crosses the border, he loses all memory of his original self. Once again, he is only Mr. Clark, Storybrooke pharmacist.
Back on the town common, Red, Blue and Jiminy staff a makeshift crisis center and help their fellow castaways (curseaways?) find housing (if their homes were wraith-wrecked), loved ones, and perhaps, their bearings. People are panicked. Whale is mostly panicking about whether or not the nuns are now datable.
Charming goes to Regina to get more information on the portal hat, but she lies that she can't remember where she got it. While it's an unsatisfying visit for our fair prince, it works for me. He tells Regina he knows her wallpaper trick must have been a magical anomaly (wow, it took me three tries to spell that -- my coffee, like the curse, is broken), because were she truly empowered, the town would already be toast. This, of course, lights a fire under Regina's butt. It was bad enough to be relatively powerless. It's worse now that one of her nemeses knows. On the flip side, he plants a seed of redemption in her (not a euphemism) when Charming tells our Evil Queen that if she uses magic to get keep Henry, she won't really have him.
Back in town, Charming is besieged by the townsfolk and it's getting him down. Henry tries to buck up Gramps by reminding him that in the book, things always look worse right before they get better. Just then, Team 7 tears into town, with Grumpy screaming, "Terrible news! Terrible news!" Things should clear up, any minute now. After snarking at Henry, Grumpy tells Charming what happened to Sneezy. Charming promises the Storybrookers he'll report back in two hours and fill them in on his plan. You know. Once he has one.
Regina goes to Rumpy and asks for her mother's grimoire. At first Rumpy is disinclined to deal, but when Regina realizes that she is no longer subject to Rumpy's magical "Please," she presses her case. She figures Rumpy has a vested interest in keeping the Storybrookers from realizing that their land still exists (we knew she was lying, last week), and that he's up to something that does not involve returning to the Enchanted Forest. Rumpy conjures up the grimoire, but cautions Regina that using straight-up spells can harm her. She doesn't care if they turn her green. Rumpy chuckles that while he once didn't see it, she now so resembles her mother.
Regina isn't the only Storybrooker who visits Rumpy's shop. After Henry shows Charming that the hat must belong to the Mad Hatter, Charming pays the golden one a visit, and asks for help in locating someone. Our prince plays his cards relatively close to the vest and is fairly careful in dealing with Rumpy. In exchange for a locating potion, he agrees not to interfere with Rumpy, provided Rumpy returns that courtesy. As Charming exits, he mentions that if Storybrookers leave town, they lose all memory of their original selves. Alone, an irate Rumpy raises cain -- and his cane -- with which he smashes the glass cases in his shop. I imagine his plan was to search for Bae, so I can't help but understand his tantrum.
While Charming uses the potion to locate Jefferson (he does, but it doesn't prove all that fruitful), Regina huffs some magic, terrorizes the townies, and drags Henry back home with her. When he tries to escape, she enchants a tree to ensnare him. Back inside, Regina tries to coerce Henry to the magical side, but our noble boy refuses. Perhaps I will go on about this in the recap, but I just want to stand and cheer for this development -- and I don't mean Henry's strong character. That's nothing new. I'm not even referring to the fact that Henry's refusal nudges Regina one step closer to redemption, although it surely does. No, this scene sows some longterm potential as well. This series is performing well. Let's say it goes five or seven seasons. Henry will have to flirt with the dark side at one point or another. He will have to be temptable. This one little scene is a wonderful investment in his future.
When Jefferson runs away from Charming, our prince gives chase, but is stopped by Red, who tells him that Regina has snagged Henry. Getting to the grandson he can save is the only thing that sways him from his quest to find his wife and daughter. Well, it's almost the only thing. Before he goes to Regina's, Charming stops a mass exodus, just at the town border. I don't fully buy the Storybrookers' motivation for leaving town. In his big, Live-Together-Die-Alone-ish speech, Charming says he understands they want to leave their bad memories behind, and I guess we're supposed to just accept that as their reason. I suppose they're frightened of Regina, too, but that's nothing new to them, although since the good guys have no fairy dust, I suppose she's more frightening to them. Still, Geppetto is one of the characters leaving, even though the last time we saw him, he was putting up "Missing" signs in hopes of locating his son. So, when he doesn't get any hits in a half hour (or even a half day), he just decides to give up and forget the boy ever existed. Um what? The whole scene feels largely contrived just to up the tension for Charming's big speech. Maybe it will work better for me upon re-watching. I don't matter, though; the Storybrookers do, and it works for them, seemingly because Charming explains that they are all now both their Enchanted selves, and...Mainers. Satisfied, the Storybrookers all smile at their prince, get back in their cars and return to town.
Charming arrives at Regina's, his sword drawn -- well, a sword. I'll have to watch the finale and see if Emma brought his sword back, after she got the true love egg out of Dragon Maleficent. Anyhow, he demands that the Queen return his grandson, and vows to fight any evil she conjures. Regina says that's not necessary. She summons Henry and admits she can't force or magic him into loving her. She wants to redeem herself in his eyes and tells him he is free to leave with Gramps. Does she mean that redemption malarky? Kind of. Once she is alone, Regina actually contemplates burning the grimoire, but c'mon, if the commoners are amalgams of their original selves and their Storybrooke selves, Regina is an even bigger pile of mushed up personae. In the end, she compromises her one, fetal principle, and locks up the grimoire, just in case.
Meanwhile, Henry and Charming talk at the diner, where Charming assures the boy that he knows Snow and Emma survived their trip to wherever they are, because he can feel it. For a young man, Mr. Dallas gives a fabulous, sincere crinkly-eyed-grampa smile. There's a lovely visual of the two taking physically identical swigs of their soda, that I could just watch over and over. Meanwhile, the dwarfs (save Sneezy) arm themselves with pickaxes. They're headed to the mines, to see if they can dig up some fairy dust. Grumpy: "It's off to work we go." Heigh Ho!
Enchanted Flashback. This week's back story is all how Regina went from mild, mourning maiden to magic addict psycho. There's a revelation about Regina's early childhood that I'll save for the recap. Rumpy's attempts to corrupt Regina begins shortly before she is to wed Leopold. Rumpy, of course, takes advantage of Regina's desire to escape Cora's clutches, in order to seduce her to learning (and getting hooked on using) the dark arts. Regina shoves her mother through an enchanted looking glass portal (supplied by Rumpy, naturally). Cora disappears from the Enchanted Forest, and into what Rumpy calls "an annoying, useless little world." As she rides out of Leopold's land (Knifingham Palace looms in the background) Regina returns the grimoire to Rumpy. She doesn't want it, but Rumpy does a little digging and gets Regina to admit that she doesn't want to use magic again because she loves it. He convinces her she can do so much now, if only she'll let him show her how. In return, someday she'll do something for him. Regina wants reassurance that she won't become like her mother, so Rumpy says, "That, dearie, is entirely up to you."
Enchanted Sideways. Finally! In the last two minutes of the episode, Mulan and Aurora lead the bound Emma and Snow White down a beach littered with old ship timbers, and to their "home" (it's got to be Neverland, right?). Once they reach the little village, Snow knees Aurora in the gut (unnecessarily, I think, because Aurora doesn't seem to be holding onto Snow by then), runs, and commands Emma to do the same. Emma does, but Mulan grabs a slingshot and strikes Snow with a rock. She's down for the count. Taking a page out of Ana Lucia's book, Mulan orders her minions to throw our princesses in the pit. Yeah, I already didn't like you Mulan. Now I don't even want to watch you. Down in said pit, as Emma tries to wake her mother, another mother emerges from the shadows and asks Emma if she wants help. It's Cora. Quick, Snow, wake up and save your girl from making a horrible mistake!
Storybrooke. I almost forgot this part. Geppetto enters August's room. Our living puppet is no longer there, but when Geppetto finds his Pinocchio's hat, he knows he has identified his long lost son.
This episode is chock full of action, characterization and some mythology, too. 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, if you try to leave us, you'll forget who you truly are.
Previously, on Once Upon A Time, the curse is broken. Rumplestiltskin (sic Sic SIC!) brings magic to town, but the Storybrookers are not transported back to their world. Rumpy summons a wraith a.k.a. the Chintz Monster, who not only blows out all the lights in town (except for when he doesn't) but also doubles down and besieges our heroes by...blowing paper through the streets. There are touching reunions, which are necessarily brief because the Charming family can't allow this wraith to waste paper like that, even though they're in Maine. Also, they've promised Henry that they won't let Chintzy suck out Regina's soul, like she has one, or something.
Emma jump-starts Regina's magic, enabling her to use Jefferson's hat to open a portal to their old, enchanted world, the one Regina totally swears no longer exists -- so we know it does. The good guys chase the wraith into the portal. The wraith grabs Emma and drags her in after him. Snow White won't lose her daughter again, so she jumps in after them. Charming follows suit, but the portal closes and he plants his pretty face right on the floor, which still has me cackling days later.
In the Enchanted Forest...wait. I need a new name for it. I mean Charming uses the term "Enchanted Forest" a lot this week, but it's clearly its own reality, full of lots of kingdoms and such and they're not all forests. Lots of people refer to it as Fairy Tale Land, but that leads to the abbreviation FTL, and I watched Battlestar Galactica, so when I read FTL, I think someone is about to spool up the FTL drives in preparation for a jump. Let's call it L'enchantement. Yeah. I like that. So anyhow, back in L'enchantement, Mulan and Aurora find Emma and Snow White, lying under a pile of rubble, created when the Charmings shooed Chintzy into Jefferson's hat. Mulan concludes that our girls are responsible for bringing Chintzy to town and killing Prince Phillip.
Currently, on Once Upon A Time, we open during the day at the town line. Grumpy spray paints an orange line across the road. They must investigate what happens if someone crosses the line. His fellow dwarfs, who are the Royal Guard loyal to Snow White, are...well, frankly they're chicken. Grumpy, clearly the drill sergeant, barks that they must prove themselves to their Prince (Charming). Sneezy draws the short straw. When he hesitates to cross, Grumpy gives him a little nudge. Is it too early for a quick family anecdote? My Dad, one of four boys, was an identical twin. They grew up in a second floor apartment. When they were little, his twin would refuse to go down the stairs -- to go out and play. As my Nana told the story, she'd hear Dad tell his brother to go down. My uncle would refuse. The next thing she'd hear is thumpity thump thump bump, then the front door slamming. Sometimes, you need a little nudge, is what I'm saying. Once Sneezy is across the line, he's surrounded by magic. It pulses all over him. His brothers yell to him, but he can't answer over the title card.