Warning: Spoiler Alert
And, again, we’re off to a mile-a-minute opening of Once Upon A Time. Emma and Henry are outside Granny’s. Both look grim. Emma asks Henry if he’s sure he’s ready to go ahead with what they’re about to do. Henry admits that he isn’t, but he’s willing to proceed with their plans.
So, Emma marches into Granny’s and asks Hook out to dinner that evening. Hook’s flattered, and demands that Emma let him plan the evening. Emma is predictably indignant, and Hook is predictably cavalier and charming, teasing that Emma knows how to chase a monster but not how to plan an evening out. Emma relents, but warns Hook that she doesn’t “pillage and plunder” on the first date. Hook warns her that she’s never been out with him yet. (TWO BADASSES FLIRTING LIKE NERVOUS TEENAGERS. I AM TRYING VERY HARD NOT TO DIE BEFORE THE FIRST COMMERCIAL BREAK.)
Emma turns and practically sprints out of the restaurant, only to discover that the bug is in a mysterious puddle of water. Hmm. Emma hasn’t been able to find any sign of the Snow Queen as of yet, but melted ice turns into water… foreshadowing!
Emma’s distracted enough that she doesn’t notice Hook leaving Granny’s and high-tailing it to Gold’s Pawnshop, so that he can greet the owner when he shows up for the day. Gold isn’t happy to see Hook, but because he’s going to be in SO MUCH TROUBLE if Belle finds out about The Dagger Situation, and because of course Hook immediately threatens to tell her the truth, Gold grants Hook an audience. Now that Hook has landed a date with Emma, he needs Gold to give him a hand—literally (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself). It seems that our Captain would like two hands with which to hold his maiden fair, and he has an inkling that the sorcerer who took his hand will be able to restore him. Because Rumpelstiltskin is a wicked, strange creature, he happens to have Hook’s hand in the back of the shop.
But, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that all magic comes with a price. Gold cautions that Hook’s hand belongs to the man Hook once was—the pillaging, marauding pirate. He cautions that Hook may find his true nature in the hand, and that its desires and instincts might overtake him. Hook dismisses Gold’s warning, saying he’d never be foolish enough to trust The Dark One, and demands that Gold restore his hand. With a wave of magic, Gold complies. Hook’s pleased with his new extremity. Gold, seething with displeasure at Hook’s happiness, taunts, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Emma is also getting ready for her date. Although she doesn’t need any body parts magically restored, she does have to figure out what to wear. It might be a bit less complicated, if she weren’t under the examining eyes of Mary Margaret, David, and Elsa. They’re also at Apartment Charming, sorting through Storybrooke’s census records, looking for evidence of the Snow Queen’s presence in the town prior to Emma breaking the curse. Emma emerges in a fluffy pink dress and a ponytail that would make anyone in the cast of Grease jealous. The Internet squee-ed pretty hard over this, but not as hard as David and Mary Margaret. The Charmings very obviously regret not spending the last 28 years fussing over their daughter, and they are clearly trying to make up for lost time.
Hook arrives to collect Emma for their evening, sporting not only a new hand, but a new, updated wardrobe (which leaves Elsa the only one wandering around Storybrooke in something ridiculous—please get the girl a pair of jeans and a sweater!). Maybe I am simply so in love with this show that I will overlook any and all flaws, but I am seriously so in love with the wardrobe of every single character. Playing perfectly off of Emma’s poufy-skirt, high-ponytail look, Hook’s new wardrobe invokes a mix of Danny Zuko from Grease and Uncle Jesse from Full House. Fairytales and cult classics. This show. I swear.
Anyway, the two head to a very swanky restaurant for some very fluffy flirting, but the evening is soon spoiled when Will Scarlett (the young rapscallion who lead Emma and David to the ice cream parlor, before ripping the place off and beating the scene), who is knocking back whiskeys at the bar, spies the two and tries to sneak out. And, by sneak out, I mean he puts his coat over his head, charges into the crowded dining room, and knocks a waiter carrying a wine glass directly into Emma’s lap. Subtle, eh?
Emma’s stunned, but Hook is furious. Or at least, his hand is. He manhandles Will, demanding he apologize to Emma. At this point, Emma realizes who Hook is shaking into pieces, and Will recognizes that he’s caught. Emma’s surprised yelp is enough to distract Hook from tearing off Will’s arm, and Will uses the continued confusion to escape. Emma leaps up to chase after him, but then gets another look at Hook (now Killian, since he can’t really be Captain Hand. Well, not in public, anyway), who is giving her what can only be described as a feral glare. She takes her seat, because, well, there’s an ice wall around the town anyway—where’s he gonna go?
The two return to Apartment Charming after dinner, and the internet and everyone else held their breath for the fairytale perfect kiss goodnight. Once Upon A Time, you do not disappoint. It’s all gentle pecking until Killian’s latest appendage gets some ideas of its own, headed for second base of its own accord. Killian’s horrified. Emma slips away from him, not like a blushing maiden, but like a woman who has fooled around with cheeky dudes before and who is very good at not being impressed by their bravery. Maybe Captain Hand isn’t a bad name, after all.
She slams the door behind her, attempting to catch her breath, but instead she’s ambushed by questions from Mary Margaret and David, who (of course) waited up for her.
She’s gotta get her own place.
Will Scarlett, apparently not getting his fill at the bar earlier, has a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a lock pick in the other. He’s trying to break into Storybrooke’s Library. Even drunk as a skunk, he might have been successful, except he’s happened upon by one Killian Jones (presumably sprinting across town to take a cold shower). Killian’s incensed at Will’s attempt at burglary, and Captain Hand is still seething over the earlier incident with Emma. Will’s punched out and bleeding from the face before many words can be exchanged. The bloody crocodile was right.
He rushes to Gold’s Pawnshop, demanding his hook back. The two have a tense conversation in Gold’s Cadillac. Gold isn’t sympathetic to Killian’s plight, but Killian is frantic to have his hand removed from him. Again, he threatens to reveal The Dagger Situation to Belle, but Gold reveals that he switched the daggers after he and Killian made their earlier deal. Furious, Killian grabs his hook and plunges it into Gold’s chest. Fortunately, it’s as effective at killing The Dark One as it was the last time he tried it. And, like the last time, Gold has a few more unpleasant surprises for Killian. Since it was Rumpelstiltskin’s magic that restored the hand, and it is only his magic that can remove it. Killian desperately wants the hand gone before he can do something to tarnish his chances with Emma, so he enters into another deal with Gold. They agree to meet at the docks at dawn. Gold wants to pay a visit to another old friend.
A long time ago, in the Enchanted Forest, The Dark One approached a secret altar being guarded by an old, wizardly looking man. The Dark One overtook the guardian, but was unable to penetrate the enchantment surrounding the altar. An enchantment, the gasping guardian (who reveals himself to be the apprentice of the sorcerer who set the enchantment) explained, that could only be broken by one who had faced darkness in their hearts and resisted it. So, not The Dark One. But *that* Dark One was Zoso. Rumpelstiltskin is not Zoso—when a breathless, earnest young girl calling herself Joan arrives at the Dark Castle to beg knowledge of her parents, *this* dark one knows what he has on his hands.
He gives Anna a small vial of liquid and instructs her to go to a hut at the foot of the mountains. She’ll find a man there; she’s to put the liquid into his tea. Upon completing this task, Rumpelstiltskin will tell “Joan” of her parents’ journey to The Enchanted Forest. Anna sets out to complete her task, but the man she finds at the hovel (the apprentice who fought with Zoso), is charming and delightful. He immediately welcomes her in and offers her tea. When the kettle begins to sing, Anna reaches to pour the liquid in while her host prattles on with some charming, doddering old man story. Of course, Anna can’t poison this man! She pours the vial into the fire and has afternoon tea instead.
Anna’s naïve, but The Dark One isn’t. When Anna (her true identity revealed) insists that she fulfilled their deal, he gleefully informs her that, since the apprentice drank the contents of the vial, he will live. Anna’s vial was an antidote for a potion that Rumpelstiltskin had given him the day before. When Anna learns the cost of their unfulfilled deal, she confesses and insists that they attempt to save the apprentice. Rumpelstiltskin directs her gaze to his crystal ball, which shows the man being cursed and turned into a mouse.
They arrive at the hut, finding it empty. Rumpelstiltskin (who is just dropping bombs throughout the episode) is unable to resist the villain-instinct to reveal his plans and confesses another motive he has for making a deal with Anna. Her true-hearted nature is as obvious as her nervous chatter. She thought she would accomplish her mission by dealing with Rumpelstiltskin and dosing the sorcerer’s apprentice, but she couldn’t bear the risk of harming such a seemingly docile man. Sounds like she has passed the faced-darkness-and-let-good-prevail challenge of that enchantment, eh? Anna tries to bluff her way out of helping Rumpelstiltskin. But, again, girl just has no guile. He pushes her back, taunting her until she finally breaks and draws a sword on him. The Dark One continues to push her, urging her to kill him so that their deal can remain unfulfilled and she can return home. Anna’s no murderer, though. She collapses in tears. The tears of a desperate, true-hearted princess are worth something in The
Enchanted Forest. Rumpel reaches down and collects one with his dagger. The dagger is now impregnated with “faced-and-denied-darkness” magic, which will break the enchantment on that altar. And, as luck would have it, the altar is in the hut they’re occupying’s basement.
So. What’s on that altar? Oh, you know. That weird stack-of-coasters thing from the Rumbelle Honeymoon House in Storybrooke, that’s all. And what’s so special about the hat that the dagger conjures from it? Well, Rumpel explains, once he has ascended back into the hut to find her still sobbing in frustration, the sorcerer made the hat to capture all sorts of magic power. It’s a possible doomsday device, so he left his apprentice to guard it. Anna’s tears gave The Dark One the means to retrieve the hat for himself. In the interest of fulfilling their deal, he reveals to Anna that her parents indeed sought him out, looking for a way to control or disable Elsa’s terrifying powers. They left empty-handed, though—the only thing that could do that is the hat that Rumpelstiltskin happens to be holding.
The villain has revealed his plan, and he has gloated over the hero, and now it’s time for the unexpected turn of events that favors good-over-evil. The apprentice-turned-mouse hasn’t abandoned the house, he’s been waiting in the rafters, waiting for a convenient time to drop down and ruin that villain’s day. A well-placed bite, an enraged yelp, and a scuffle later, Anna is holding The Dark One’s dagger. She realizes that Rumpelstiltskin’s compelled to obey her, and so she bids him to give her the hat that might save her sister and send her back home (and, because she is Anna, she also orders him to turn the mouse back into the apprentice). With a wave of his hand, her demands come true (and the dagger barely hits the floor before Rumpelstiltskin has it in his claws again.)
So Anna is back in Arendelle, fretting with Kristoff over what she’ll tell Elsa about their parents’ fear of their own child, The Dark One is in his castle, fuming over his foiled plot, and Hook and Gold are on the docks, following a broomstick to find out where The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is hiding in Storybrooke.
Gold is enjoying Killian being in his debt. Not only because it’s making Killian squirm, but Killian himself has plenty of bad-guy experience. It’s easier to bum-rush an old man with an able-bodied, dastardly intentioned sidekick. Gold wastes no time in using the hat to capture the apprentice. Once Gold has the hat safely stored in the pawn shop, he completes his deal and restores Captain Hook’s more familiar, if more menacing, appendage.
The vitriol between the two men rises. Hook witnessed Gold using the dagger to conjure the hat to capture the apprentice, and he’s going to waste no time in telling Belle. Gold isn’t as worried as he might be, though. Gold’s vulnerability is also Hook’s—if Hook destroys Gold’s marriage with Belle, Gold will go after Emma, and we all know he’s got no problem taking out anyone who might be in love with that pirate. And, as long as Hook as in love with Emma, Gold holds that power over him. Looks like the beginning of a manipulative, mistrustful, pissing-contest-heavy partnership.
And Hook isn’t Gold’s only new apprentice. Regina and Henry have searched Regina’s vault, looking (futilely) for something that might help with Frozen Marian. While their spell-breaking objectives out of reach, Henry reminds Regina that Operation Mongoose is still in play. Henry figures that there’s one person in town who seems to have a knack for knowing about objects, and that person happens to be Henry’s grandfather. No, not David. The other grandfather. If Henry can get close to Gold, he might be learn if Gold knows anything about the book or its author.
So, Henry goes to Gold, asking for a job around the pawn shop. He wants a chance at a better relationship with him, since Gold is the closest connection Henry has to his father, the dearly departed Neal Cassidy. If there’s anything that will bring out Rumpelstiltskin’s softer side, it’s conversations about his beloved Baelfire.
Rumpel beams as he watches his grandson sweep the floor of his shop; his wife is having a less-good morning at work. She arrives to find a broken window, an empty bottle of whiskey, and a passed-out Will Scarlett clutching a copy of Alice in Wonderland. She summons Emma, who was spending the morning chasing a Snow-Queen-slug-trail of frost around Storybrooke. Emma abandons her search to retrieve Scarlett and throw him in Storybrooke’s drunk tank. Once he comes to, Emma begins grilling him about why he broke into the library and the origin of the shiner that’s blooming on his face. He claims to have been blackout-drunk, but his hazy memory may have had more to do with Hook’s entrance and menacing glare than the whiskey. Maybe.
Scarlett may not provide many answers, but the Charmings’ search through the census records has yielded results. There’s no trace of the Snow Queen’s alias, Sarah Fischer, in Storybrooke up until now. She wasn’t a part of the original curse—something else has brought her to their town. According to the teaser for next week, we may (finalllllly) find out a little more about it.
And so, Once Upon A Time has given us another character-satisfying, plot-thickening chapter, complete with answers to questions that only bring about more questions. What, exactly, is Rumpelstiltskin playing at with the dagger and the hat? Does he know anything about Henry’s book? How do Elsa and The Snow Queen’s presence in Storybrooke fit in? Where is Anna?
Ugh. Next week. Maybe next week we’ll find out.
The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC.