Jennifer Morrison

All posts tagged Jennifer Morrison

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last week’s Once Upon a Time ended abruptly, with Emma reeling in the town’s square, dazed in her pursuit of The Author. This week begins exactly as we left, with Emma running through the town. Mary Margaret and David catch up to her, and she pauses.

They’ve lost The Author, and they need to find him. As Emma pants, Mary Margaret confesses that she and David know The Author from a long time ago. He’s the one who tricked them into dooming Maleficent’s child. They try to explain themselves, but Emma is still furious with their manipulation. They’ve controlled her entire destiny so she could become The Savior and they did so at the expense of an innocent child’s soul. But she doesn’t care to discuss it further. She reminds them again that they need to find The Author before Gold does.

They don’t, of course. As The Author races through the woods outside Storybrooke, he pauses to grab a stick and begins to carve a pen. Gold interrupts him, reminding him that the quill will only be magic if it comes from an enchanted pen, and there are no such trees in Storybrooke. The Author, sneering at having to speak to The Dark One, curses his reminder and moves to walk away.

Gold then produces the kind of pen that The Author is looking for. There’s no magic to be found in this world, but magical items brought over from other realms will still work. He’s got himself a magic quill, and he’ll give it to The Author so long as he uses it to write a whole bunch of happy endings.

The Author begrudgingly accepts, and Gold whisks them off in a cloud of purple smoke before The Charmings, Killian, and Henry charge into the clearing where the two just stood.

Cut to Regina’s vault, where she’s still unconscious and restrained. She awakens to find Gold standing before her. She’s his prisoner now, she supposes. He reminds her that she chose to go against him and had been caught. Regina bristles as he reprimands her poor decisions, incredulous that he once told her he cared about her happiness and now he’s holding her hostage.

It’s true, he admits, that he cared about her happiness. But in truth he cares about his own happiness more, and isn’t afraid to use her or eliminate her if she gets in the way of his. Regina wonders what could have happened to him to make him so heartless. He lost everything, he replies, but he found other things. Like a phone number for Robin Hood.

Regina knows that Gold is up to something and demands to know what he’s holding back. He shrugs, removes her bonds, and hands her a phone. He suggests she find out for herself. Suspicious, but unable to do anything to stop herself, she dials the phone.

But before the call can go through, we’re taken to nine weeks ago. We see Robin leave Storybrooke with Marian and Roland, and I cry just as hard as I did the first time. The trio winds up in New York City, looking for Baelfire’s old apartment. Regina had given Robin the keys that she had (somehow?) and a map. They aren’t finding their way through the city well, and as they pause to resituate their baggage and Roland, a man comes along and, in NYC fashion, grabs one of their bags and runs off.

Robin is frantic, but spies a horse from a nearby hansom carriage. He steals it and gives chase to the thief. In a very impressive pursuit scene, he chases the thief down and overtakes him. As he tackles him to the ground, Robin admonishes the thief’s lack of honor. Silly Robin. Thieves in New York in 2015 don’t have honor!

Eventually, Robin reunites with his family and they find Baelfire’s apartment. Marian is tending to a cut on Robin’s forehead when they hear someone trying to open the front door. They stash Roland in the back, grab some impromptu weapons, and wait as the door swings open.

Gold staggers into the apartment, looking horrible and then enraged as he sees the Hoods there when he expected to have the place to himself. The two men get into an argument over who should have the apartment, and as things get heated, Gold grabs his chest and collapses.

(Here my notes say “IT’S A GOOD DAMN THING THAT THIS WAS NINE WEEKS AGO AND I KNOW HE’S NOT DEAD RIGHT NOW.”)

In a critical care unit waiting room, Robin holds an iPhone. The screen waits patiently. Call Regina? But before he can decide anything, a nurse calls him and tells him that his “friend” is awake.

Robin goes to see Gold, who looks exactly like everyone looks in a hospital gown and hooked up to machines: like hammered shit. Robin enquires to his condition. Gold snorts, saying he was told it was a heart attack and got advice about diet and exercise. Robin understands that Gold is unimpressed with modern medicine. The problem isn’t physical, Gold continues, it’s moral. His heart is contaminated with all the dark deeds he’s done. In Storybrooke he used magic to keep him intact but outside it’s catching up to him. He needs Robin to fetch a certain potion for him that could fix his problem.

Robin wonders why on earth he’d do something like help Rumpelstiltskin. But Rumpelstiltskin knows Robin’s heart, or at least his honor. He’ll help him because it’s the honorable thing to do, and it would be a disservice to the sacrifice he made in giving up Regina if he forsakes that honor now. Looking much like everyone else who gets backed into a deal with The Dark One, Robin agrees.

Gold directs him to an abandoned antique furniture store that belonged to The Wizard of Oz after Zelena sent him to New York City to keep an eye on Emma when she crossed over. The name of the store? “The Wizard of Oak.” Yup, because this show has a pathological and delicious obsession with terrible magic puns. Anyway, Robin breaks in and immediately triggers a burglar alarm. He ransacks the dusty store, finding what he was looking for just in time. The cops come rolling up outside, but Robin smashes through a window and manages to escape.

He doesn’t immediately return the potion to the hospital, though. He goes home and confesses the past few hours events to Marian. She is completely against helping someone like Rumpelstiltskin and says as much. Robin explains the dire situation, but Marian is unmoved. Maybe letting someone like him die will be for the greater good. Robin is appalled—the Marian he married would never say something like that. “Look around, Robin,” Marian retorts. “Everything has changed.”

“Not me,” Robin replies. He leaves to take the potion to Gold in the hospital. He seems more agitated by Marian’s objections to following through on his duty to Rumpelstiltskin, and maybe it’s not only because Marian seemed so callous.

See, a long time ago, in the Sherwood Forest, Robin of Locksley was trying to clean up his act. He was working at a barkeep in a tiny village, obviously in love with the waitress (like every restaurant you’ve ever been to. Keep that in mind the next time you go out to eat. One of the bartenders is unstoppably in love with one of the servers. Gender nonspecific.) Anyway, he’s working at the tavern but it’s kind of a hole so nobody’s making much money. That’s especially unfortunate because Robin has wound up super-behind on his taxes and the Sherriff of Nottingham comes to collect. The two have a tense conversation and Nottingham eventually agrees to give Robin a two day extension, knowing that he’ll fail. Then, after Robin is in debtor’s prison, he can snatch up Marian for himself like she’s some kind of property. Which, she quickly interjects, she is not. Smirking and dismissing her rejection, he reinforces the two day deadline and leaves.

Robin was in trouble and not sure how to get out of it. Because The Dark One must be able to sense these kind of things, he visits Robin that evening with a deal for him. Robin’s the best thief around, and Rumpelstiltskin needs him to go steal something for him that he can’t take for himself. He’ll be rewarded handsomely for his troubles. Robin hesitates, but in the glow of the golden straw that Rumpelstiltskin extends, he accepts.

Rumpelstiltskin sends Robin to Oz to retrieve The Elixir of The Wounded Heart in a little curtained archway and a ball of magic. It’s no Kansas Dustbowl-era farmhouse, but it still manages to land on someone just in time to save someone else. A member of the royal guard has been knocked out by Robin’s blind landing, leaving Will Scarlett shaken but relatively unharmed.

The two men regard each other, quickly recognizing the other as a thief. Will encourages Robin to trust him, saying that the two are both in a bit of a predicament so it would be wise to help one another out. Robin discloses his mission to Will, and Will agrees to help Robin and dispose of the guard on the condition that Robin also steal some of this elixir for Will to sell to the highest bidder. Robin, realizing he’s getting a pretty good deal in a bad situation, agrees.

He steals the guards uniform and makes off to the palace, eventually finding himself in what would become the Wizard’s throne room. He begins rifling through the treasures there, eventually finding the elixir and pouring some of it into vials.

Zelena catches him red handed. She quickly deduces that he was sent by Rumpelstiltskin, and, rather than be enraged, she’s more amused by the little thief Rumpelstiltskin sent in his stead. She begins to engage him with magic, but Robin manages to create a diversion and escape. As he flees, we hear glass shattering.

He returns to find Will waiting for him outside the city’s walls. There, Robin tells Will that he’s failed his mission but thanks him profusely for his help. Will isn’t upset by Robin’s failure. He understands that Robin is desperately trying to turn things around for the sake of his true love Marian. Robin,

uncomfortable with Will’s flattery, suggests that he return to his realm and Will goes to accompany him. As Will starts out ahead, Robin reaches within his cloak. He’s a liar. He managed to steal one vial—the vial he needs for Rumpelstiltskin.

They make it back to the archway, and Will continues to praise Robins honor, and Robin grows more and more uncomfortable. For a thief, Will has a terrible poker face. Robin figures out that Will didn’t want to sell the elixir, but to use it himself, to heal his own broken heart. His sister, Will confesses, loved him truly, but she drowned and her loss has grieved him unrelentingly ever since. Robin, trying not to look absolutely ill as he continues his lie, wishes him the best. They shake hands, and then he slips through the curtain which disappears behind him, and Will continues along the Yellow Brick Road. Soon, though, Will realizes something is jabbing him in the ribcage. He reaches into his vest pocket and pulls out the elixir that Robin slipped into his pocket as they bade farewell to each other. Smiling, Will continues along.

And so maybe Robin has more of a debt to Rumpelstiltskin than he’s told Marian. That doesn’t stop him from demanding a further deal with Gold after he gets to the hospital, though. He wants Gold to vacate the apartment and leave Robin and his family stay there. Desperate for the potion, Gold agrees. Robin leaves, and Gold opens the vial and downs it immediately.

He waits, the angle shifts around the room and nothing happens. Confused and enraged, Gold shouts at the vial, “Why is it not working?!”

“Because it’s not real magic,” a female voice replies.

Marian walks into the room in a pronouncedly casual cantor, holding a vial in her hands. He just drank cough syrup—good for congestion but not great for healing wickedly black hearts.

Further agitated, Gold demands to know why she’s done such a thing when he’s done her no harm. Done her no harm? Marian doesn’t know about that. Well, not exactly.

She reaches beneath her shirt to reveal a pendant, and in a swirl of magic, turns into Zelena.

ZELENA. BACK. IN THE FLESH. IN NEW YORK CITY NINE WEEKS AGO.

This is no longer dropping bombs. We are getting shelled with plot twists. God, I hope it lasts.

Gold is incredulous that she’s survived, but she explains that she managed to extract her lifeforce from her body before he shattered it with the dagger. And then, she followed Emma and Killian through the time portal and followed them throughout their time-fixing adventure. Emma knocked Marian unconscious and they left her unattended, killed her and used a glamor spell to take her place.

SO MARIAN HAS BEEN DEAD AND ZELENA HAS BEEN MARIAN THIS WHOLE TIME. THINGS MAKE SO MUCH MORE SENSE. I MAY HAVE SCREAMED EVEN MORE THAN I AM RIGHT NOW.

Gold is reeling and Zelena continues to taunt him—his son wasn’t avenged after all! He’s failed in so many ways! And now she has the elixir that he’ll die without.

He flatlines. Zelena, utterly unconcerned, regards his body and listens to his chest. “Hollow,” she declares and the show cuts to a commercial.

I usually don’t note when commercial breaks happen because it’s not usually all that important but I would like everyone to know that the four-or-so minutes during the commercial break that I spent willing myself to not look at the internet to assure myself that someone in Eastern Daylight Time had already posted that Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t really dead were the longest of my life and all I did was capslock-scream into my notes for the entire time.

Anyway, Gold comes to with a tube in his throat and Zelena by his side. She knows he’s in trouble, and she’ll give him the elixir he needs, so long as she gets a happy ending from The Author. She also wants a truce between them, with the understanding that Zelena has the upper hand. Powerless and helpless as he was when he begged Killian for Milah’s life all those years ago, Rumpelstiltskin accepts.

Gold is discharged and doesn’t return to the apartment. Robin gets in contact with him, wanting to give him a box of Baelfire’s things that they found. Gold declines. The box has things that belonged to Neil Cassidy, who was a boy abandoned in this world by his coward father. It’s just a reminder of a happiness that Rumpelstiltskin had within his grasp but was too greedy and couldn’t recognize it.

The conversation drifts to Robin’s troubles with Marian. He means to remain true to her, but she seems so different from the woman he married (OH GEE I WONDER WHY). He misses Regina terribly but he can’t allow himself to leave Marian. Gold suggests that Robin assess his situation and advises that he hold onto happiness with both hands if it comes within his reach.

Robin departs and goes home to take a shower, angrily.

He recalls what happened two days after he abandoned his deal with Rumpelstiltskin. Nottingham came to collect from Robin but found him unable to pay. Nottingham moves to arrest Robin, but the Merry Men spring from hiding places around the tavern to defend him. Robin explains that he knows that he’s a failure as a barkeep, but he’s good at being a thief. He just wants to be a thief with honor. And so, he’ll steal from the rich and give to the needy, starting with Nottingham and his men, since they’re vastly outnumbered and holding quite a lot of gold that they don’t deserve.

Robin and his men relieve the troops of their gold, which he immediately turns over to the villagers. They celebrate and dance with joy like villagers do. Marian is impressed with Robin’s valiant thievery. Robin is incredulous, but Marian vows to support her husband the bandit so long as he does so with honor. It won’t be easy, since Nottingham will be calling for Robin of Locksley’s head, so Robin decides to become Robin Hood. The two begin their life together on the run not only from Nottingham but from Rumpelstiltskin, who didn’t give up his gold but who also didn’t get his potion. Robin managed to lift a charm from Zelena’s vault that will perform a glamor spell, so hopefully that will help somehow!

He exits the shower to find Marian (ZELENA. OH MY GOD NO WONDER SHE HATED REGINA SO MUCH) holding his phone. She found the screen still waiting to call Regina, and she doesn’t want to get in the way of Robin’s happiness (it’s so easy to say that when you know the person will never leave you, eh?).

Robin refuses, re-declares his love for Marian, and deletes Regina’s number. The two embrace, and the scene cuts away to reveal Robin sharing a love-affirming kiss with Zelena in the mirror opposite them.

And then we’re back to the present, with Rumpelstiltskin watching as Regina dials the phone and waits for an answer.

It’s not Robin who answers, though. It’s Marian, who quickly confesses that she’s Zelena, and that she’s got Robin Hood under her thumb, and so Regina better go along with everything she’s told or Robin will get it. It’s a hell of a conversation between two sisters who hate each other, filled with top-drawer Soap Opera Sorceress Queen dialogue that anyone could ever hope for. The phone call ends, and Gold approaches Regina. Yeah, he’s been deceiving her and he doesn’t care. He needs her to do as she’s told for the sake of his happy ending, or Robin Hood is gonna sleep with the fishes. Regina tries to resist him and hands him back the phone.

Gold asks her if she’s sure (actually he says “is that your final answer” and someone should get fired for that line because Bobby Carlyle shouldn’t have to say something that Regis Philbin made famous). Regina’s eyes fill with tears, then her expression hardens.

The End! They’ll continue living traumatically ever after next week!

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last week’s mid-season premiere of Once Upon a Time gave me reason to be hopeful for the direction the show is headed in. This felt particularly good, because I was not particularly optimistic after being unexpectedly disappointed by this season’s first half. While part of me is really excited to see the storyline focus on my favorite characters, another part of me is prepared for some really terrible things to happen, because there’s no way Rumpelstiltskin is losing Belle and going down without a fight, and since this is a soap opera about fairy tales I can anticipate that the drama is going make me cry so hard I’ll mess up someone else’s eyeliner. And I would have to, since I don’t wear eyeliner. But anyway.

We left off with Mary Margaret and David sweating hard over Cruella and Ursula becoming the latest residents of Storybrooke. Our heroes have some sort of terrible secret involving those two and Maleficent. Mary Margaret is having nightmares, which leads to late-night whispered conversations over scotch with David. This secret, it’s a whopper, and they’re willing to do anything in their power to get Cruella and Ursula out of Storybrooke before anyone catches on to their secret history. Mary Margaret finds little comfort in the fact that Maleficent is dead. It seems like in OUAT Magic Law, people steeped in dark magic are slightly more resurrect-able than the average non-magic shlub. The Charmings want to act quickly against their newest neighbors before any terrible secrets are revealed.

You see, a long time ago, in The Enchanted Forest, Snow White and Prince Charming were returning from their honeymoon. Snow White is anxious to begin their reign as King and Queen, but things are off to a rocky start—they discover that their guards and the entire city inside the castle walls have fallen to a sleeping curse. They suspect Regina, but it’s Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella who emerge to greet the returning heroes. They want an audience with the newlyweds, and they claim to have good reason.

That good reason, it turns out, is that they have evidence that Regina’s threat at the Charming’s wedding wasn’t just a bluff. Maleficent admits that Regina stole The Dark Curse, and it’s nothing to be trifled with. They think they might be able to figure out how to get around the curse and the devastation it will bring, but they’re gonna need Their Highness’ help. There’s a fairy-enchanted Tree of Wisdom within The Enchanted Forest, and it can answer any question asked of it. The Queens of Darkness would just ask The Tree themselves, but The Tree is a little picky about who it consorts with. It will take the heart of two valiant heroes to get an answer from it. And Regina is working on that curse so they don’t have much time to lose.

Snow White and Charming briefly deliberate whether or not to trust them, but their status as heroes and monarchs dictate that they do the challenging but honorable thing to try to save their kingdom. Snow White has plenty of reservations, which are realized when Maleficent turns into a dragon to torch some well-meaning, law-abiding bridge guards who refuse passage to the mixed company party. Snow White and Charming are horrified, but Maleficent isn’t fussed over it. By any means necessary, she says. Cruella and Ursula agree.

The next morning the Queens of Darkness are waiting for Snow and Charming to emerge from their tent, but Snow and Charming have split in order to make it to The Tree of Wisdom without the Queens of Darkness. Whatever the tree has to tell them, they can’t trust the Queens of Darkness with that knowledge, they reason. Upon discovering that their traveling companions have beat camp, Maleficent sends of a fiery drone thing from her staff to track them. The Charmings reach The Tree, put their hands in the conveniently placed, hand-shaped molding in some adjacent rocks, and ask how to defeat Regina’s curse. Magic shimmers and pulses outward from the tree in a sharp, red blast. Not much of an answer to their question. Snow and Charming are puzzling over why it didn’t work, and the Queens of Darkness arrive to add their opinions. Their deal isn’t over yet, despite the fact that the Charmings betrayed them, and they need to know why it didn’t work just as badly as the Charmings do.

And Maleficent sees it almost immediately, feeling foolish for not realizing it before. Snow is pregnant. The child she carries is the product of True Love; therefore, it has the potential for great power and good. But apparently another tenant of OUAT Magic Law is that magic often seeks a balance—and where there is potential for great goodness, there is also potential for great evil. The Tree couldn’t give an answer because the heart of Snow and Charming’s child holds the capacity to become the most powerful villain in all the realms. Ever.

Snow and Charming are bravely unimpressed. They will do whatever it takes to defeat Regina and they are going to win and of course their child will grow up to be good because being good is awesome and the best way to be. Well, that’s their initial reaction, anyway.

And so, in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret and David are busy plotting a way to cast out Ursula and Cruella as soon as possible. They’ve arranged to meet Regina at Granny’s, but it gets weird fast because Cruella and Ursula are also there, trying to get the first course of their liquid lunch, but Granny is more interested in chopping lemons and staring at the ceiling than waiting on the two of them. She drops everything for Will Scarlett as he pops in for a couple to-go coffees. As he exits, Regina and Henry enter. Cruella is delighted to see Regina, and asks for a little help convincing the “old bag” to fix them their cocktails. Regina declines, and Ursula and Cruella begin to pop off about Regina’s wicked history of murder and wickedness. Henry is a little uncomfortable, and Regina is furious. Mention her past again, she threatens, and she’ll have the two of them outside the town line before they can say “costume jewelry.” All Hail Regina, Queen of Sass. Pretending to be bored, but probably more than a little intimidated, Cruella and Ursula abandon their plan for drinks.

David is indignant that the two of them would act in such a manner, but Regina wants to be patient with them. She knows what it’s like to be the villain-in-recovery and wants to give them the benefit of the doubt. And besides, she isn’t even worried about their magic. Regina has more power in her lipstick than the two of them have in their whole beings put together. David presses for at least rigorous surveillance, given their sketchy past. Regina agrees, and adds that it sounds like a job for the Sheriff’s Department, not the mayor’s office. She and Henry have to work on the book and she wants zero to do with whatever the Charmings are fretting about.

They all depart the restaurant, and Emma runs into David just outside. She’d planned on meeting them there for lunch and she’s hungry! But David wants to stay hot on Cruella and Ursula’s trail, so he quickly makes up a story about needing to follow the leads they’re leaving and rushes her into the sheriff’s vehicle to give chase.

Cruella and Ursula have given up on drinks in favor of a little shopping. They enter the pawn shop, which Belle is now operating, to be greeted by a sadder, wiser woman than the maid they kidnapped all those years ago. They start trying to Mean-Girls-Regina-George Belle over her breakup/banishment of Rumpelstiltskin. Belle tries to remain calm and distant, but she’s always had a bad poker face. She seems upset at the mention of him, especially as the witches gloat over the miserable condition he’s in. Does she miss him? Or does she just regret that she had to cast him out?

It doesn’t matter. Cruella and Ursula aren’t even there to talk about The Dark One. While they’re distracting Belle, Ursula slithers a tentacle around the shop to lift a wooden box with Maleficent’s crest on it out of the back room of the shop. With the item secured, and Belle’s patience running out, Cruella asks for a hood ornament for her car, and Belle goes to check the inventory.

As Belle searches, Cruella sends a text message. In the most powerful magic I’ve witnessed since the beginning of the show, the text is received several hundred feet underneath the library in a cave that served as Maleficent-The-Dragon’s jail cell. The text was to Rumpelstiltskin, of course. And since the birds have the package, it’s time to gather the dragon’s ashes and start to work resurrecting her.

Emma and David have staked out the pawn shop, waiting for Cruella and Ursula to emerge. Emma is more than a little mystified about David’s urgency and short answers regarding the pair. She presses David a little, but she’s cut short as the women exit the pawn shop. He orders Emma to call Belle to see if anything was taken as he speeds off after them.

Over the phone, Belle tells Emma that she believes something is, indeed missing. A wooden box. Well, Belle, at least you managed to notice what was missing after they left, I guess? That being reason enough to pull them over, David does so immediately.

He orders Cruella and Ursula out of the car and begins to search it. He performs a Hank-Schrader-esque smack to the seat of the car, revealing a hidden compartment with the stolen box inside. He opens the box, and, seeing that it contains what looks to be a sparkly egg in a crow’s claw, gives the all-clear that he didn’t find anything. Emma apologizes for the inconvenience in a rather unconvincing way. David is also rude, and the women are ruffled but clearly relieved that he didn’t seem to have found anything. Emma, disturbed that Belle would have reported something missing that wasn’t really missing, wonders if they hadn’t found another way to hide it. She wants to get a look at the security footage from around the pawn shop to see if there’s anything suspicious. David thinks it’s a great plan, and suggests that Emma return to the station to review security footage and that he go home. He’s palmed the object from the wooden box and wants to get it to Mary Margaret as soon as possible.

He’s not entirely sure what it is, he confesses, but the fact that her two witch friends wanted it means that it’s got to have something to do with resurrecting her. Right? Sure, Mary Margaret agrees. And that needs to never happen because of That Terrible Secret. They figure the only way to make absolutely sure that she isn’t resurrected is to go gather her ashes from the cave and throw them in the harbor. Seems like a solid enough plan.

Back at the sheriff’s station, Emma is reviewing the security footage and is soon joined by Hook, bringing her the much-sought-after grilled cheese sandwich. He wins major boyfriend points! But he loses them pretty quickly when Emma inquires after the brief encounter they had with Ursula earlier in the day. She appeared to know him, ahem, quite well, and Hook wasn’t very convincing or specific in his explanation of their previous relationship. Emma tries again, and Hook clumsily dodges the question again. Emma knows he’s holding something back, but he won’t say anything else. After a very awkward pause, he wishes her luck on the witch hunt and skips out.

Mary Margaret and David are packing up for their excursion to Maleficent’s tomb. Emma, having found something soon after her standoff with Hook and eager to be distracted from her problems, bounds up to the two of them. Security footage shows Cruella and Ursula on the street with the box! She assumes David will want to move on it directly.

But he has dragon ashes to destroy, and he can’t tell Emma that. So, he bluffs about hiking and redemption and the benefit of the doubt, with Mary Margaret chirping in about changing attitudes and reflection on themselves. Emma gets Superpower Face, but appears convinced by her parent’s hearts-of-gold aura. She returns to the sheriff’s station, and Mary Margaret and David exchange the look parents give each other when their kid is juuuuuuust about to find out the truth about Santa Claus.

In the mines on the way to the cavern, Mary Margaret worries over their lies to Emma. David is less remorseful, affirming that they did what they had to do to protect Emma, and they will continue to do so. They reach the cavern and find a pile of ashes in the middle. But, it’s a trap! Cruella and Ursula are waiting for them and quickly render them unconscious. Rumpelstiltskin joins them, asking assurance that his involvement remains a secret. He inquires if Belle suspects anything, but Cruella and Ursula say she didn’t ask about him and seems to have moved on. Well, liar, liar, pants on fire! But what exactly do they have to gain by lying about that, other than watching The Dark One squirm? Well, do you need a better reason?

A bit too coolly, Rumpelstiltskin hands Cruella a dagger and completely disregards her comments about Belle. He reminds her that she “knows what to do,” and leaves directly. Ursula is tempted to just kill them, but Cruella reminds her that there is so much suffering in their future, killing them would be a waste. Of course the trinket was just a ruse to get them to the cavern—what they really need to resurrect Maleficent is the blood of the people who wronged her most, and with Snow and Charming there, they have exactly that.

Maleficent is resurrected in a really badass-looking ball of fire and magic, turning into a dragon first, and then into her human form. Mary Margaret and David regain consciousness and begin to beg and plead explanations to Maleficent. But she isn’t interested. She doesn’t care about their secret, she doesn’t care if anyone ever finds out how exactly they hurt her so terribly. All she wants is their complete and utter suffering. And she’s certain she’s going to get it.

The Queens of Darkness stalk off, leaving Mary Margaret and David to revel in their terror. Mary Margaret realizes that they should have seen the trap coming, but they were so terrified to reveal their secret that they let that blind them to reason. David agrees. They have to tell Emma everything. They go to the sheriff’s station to do just that.

But when they get there, they walk in on Emma having a conversation with Hook. She admits that she isn’t happy about Hook so obviously lying to her, but she is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Her parents, she explains, always look for the good in people and so will she. Upon overhearing this, it’s clear that the Charmings can’t tell their daughter the truth just yet. They need another plan.

And so, after breaking up the romantic scene between their daughter and the pirate captain, they inform them that Maleficent has been resurrected and trouble is assuredly on its way. Hook and Emma are concerned and maybe a little annoyed—what beef does Maleficent have with them, and why would she come after them now? Because they’re heroes, Mary Margaret explains. But we all know that isn’t the reason.

In The Enchanted Forest, after Snow’s pregnancy is revealed, Maleficent pays her a visit in the middle of the night. Just girl talk, between the two of them, she insists. They have something in common more than anyone else in their partnership right now. Maleficent is pregnant, too. And she needs to work with whoever she can to ensure that her child is safe. It’s a compelling argument, but not enough to convince Snow to align herself with the Queens of Darkness. Her child’s capacity for darkness will surely overwhelm her if they turn to darkness to defeat Regina. Maleficent is taken aback—Snow White would see a kingdom destroyed to ensure that her child grows up to be a hero? Snow White isn’t moved. She will defeat Regina because that’s what good does and she doesn’t need help from the likes of Maleficent.

And so the mystery of What The Charmings Did To The Queens of Darkness begins to unravel.

So, since the Queens of Darkness want revenge, a plan must be devised to deal with them. Mary Margaret meets Regina in the rain at night, because that’s how secret pacts are made. Regina is exhausted from a day of trying to extract knowledge about The Book from a very not-remembering-anything Pinocchio (in which she totally snapped at the kid, and then tearfully apologized to Gepetto, and then Gepetto took pity on her and gave her some of August-The-Man’s old things that he saved when he got turned back into Pinocchio by The Blue Fairy which will hopefully help her), and encourages Mary Margaret to cut to the chase.

And so she does. She confesses that because of what she and Charming did, Maleficent lost her child, and that Maleficent is seeking revenge on all of Storybrooke for her suffering. They need Regina to go undercover to discover what they’re plotting and how to put a stop to it. And, above all, Emma must never ever ever find out about her potential for darkness, because she’s so close to being really and truly good. As her mother, Mary Margaret can’t allow this to happen. Regina is doubtful, but eventually agrees that she needs to do something heroic if she’s going to be a hero, after all.

Just in case there wasn’t enough Rumpelstiltskin-and-Belle angst in this episode, during Mary Margaret’s tearful confession to Regina about her past betrayal of Maleficent, we see Rumpelstiltskin looking into the pawnshop’s window at Belle, who is hanging ornaments in the display. She’s soon joined by Will Scarlett. The two smile and kiss and Rumpelstiltskin leans back against the wall like he’s having a heart attack. So, there’s that weekly break-your-heart-into-a-thousand-pieces-Rumbelle scene.
And that’s it till next week!

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

When we left Storybrooke in the mid-season finale, Rumpelstiltskin had been banished by Belle after she discovered that he’d deceived her about his dagger (and also stopped him from killing Hook). Regina had watched Robin Hood walk out of Storybrooke to save Marian’s life. The fairies had been sucked into the Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic-Stealing Dream Hat. The Arendellers had gone back to Arendelle and not a minute too soon. Henry had discovered the Author’s book binding room. Rumpel is skulking around New York City, trying to gather some firepower to do… something that is probably not good.

I’m going to interject here and clarify that, after rewatching 4A during the hiatus, I am officially not a fan of the Frozen storyline. It felt unnecessary and awkward, at best. It never developed into a cohesive narrative about any of the characters. Things happened and people reacted but somehow we wound up with nothing substantive happening to any of the main characters except for Regina, Robin, Rumpel, and Belle getting their hearts broken. The mysteries were too conveniently solved while obvious questions went largely unanswered. Overall, I’d like to put that unpleasantness behind us and move forward with season four, and hopefully villains getting a happy ending won’t end with me getting my heart broken. But, no judgments yet. Let’s say at least it can only go up from here.

Well, maybe not. Tonight’s opening sequence shows The Forbidden Forest, a long time ago, and Ursula tentacle-ing around Maleficent’s castle. Maleficent wasn’t expecting any company, she’s reasonably vexed, and even more so when Cruella de Ville shows up with some very aggro Dobermans. The three women have a bit of an Abbot-and-Costello routine about why they’re all there, but Rumpelstiltskin soon appears to clear things up. He summoned the ladies, he admits. They all may hate each other, but they have something in common. They’re all villains, he explains, and the time has come for the villains to get their happy endings.

So, if this beginning is anything to base the rest of the episode on, maybe things aren’t looking up and Rumpel is embracing his fate as The Dark One. And yeah that seems to be the case. He’s staying at Ursula’s crappy, aquarium-filled Bronx apartment. The two aren’t getting along. Not surprising, really. Ursula is frustrated with their lack of progress and Rumple’s vague promises about happy endings. He rebuffs her—she’s whining because her life is crap. And, as if on cue, the computer in the corner makes a bloop and he informs her that their situation is continuing to improve.

He takes her to a gorgeous mansion on Long Island that’s currently being raided by the FBI. Cruella de Vil is appalled by the “theatrics” of the lawmen as an unattractive, portly man (presumably her very rich and probably criminal husband) is being shoved into the back of a car. Rumpelstiltskin and Ursula waltz into the middle of the scene. Normally you’d think the Feds wouldn’t put up with that, but Robert Carlyle has enough charisma to float right past them, even if he’s walking with a cane.

Cruella and Rumpelstiltskin exchange un-pleasantries, but eventually he convinces her to come along for another shot at happy endings. She opens a garage door to reveal that signature car, which has been illustrated as a Panther Deville in the 101 Dalmatians novel and subsequent animated movies, and is being represented here by a 1980s Zimmer Golden Spirit. Not bad. The Dark One gives directions to Storybrooke, and they’re on their way.

Back in Storybrooke, life is getting on as usual as it usually does. Regina is slowly trying to put her life back together and has been reinstated as mayor. Hook and Emma look happy as coffee-drinking clams. Emma has her badge and her leather coat and is back to work as sheriff, and Hook is working on undoing some of the damage he did while under the thrall of The Dark One. He’s started working on how to get the fairies out of the hat, with an police-style bulletin board set up in the library. Belle is assisting him, going through ancient books of magic, trying to translate them. She’s even sent out certain passages to world-renowned linguists, hoping for some help.

Hook is frustrated with the lack of progress, but Belle remains hopeful. Or, as hopeful as someone with a totally devastated and broken heart can be. She speaks of her relationship with Rumpelstiltskin as a mistake in judgment, trying to put it behind her, but her eyes well up with tears when the words come out. Hook tries to reassure her that, regardless of what Rumpelstiltskin did wrong, he did love Belle very much. Belle agrees, and admits that she hopes that he finds whatever it is he’s been looking for.

Emma meets up with Regina, who is poring over one of the blank books from the Sorcerer’s mansion. Regina is trying to put on a brave face, but it’s clear she’s been devastated by her lost love as well. She’s attempting to have one of her barbed-tongued rapports with Emma, but is stopped short when Emma discovers the picture of Regina and Robin that she tore to shreds in the last episode. Helpless, Regina admits that she can’t help but keep it, even if it’s just a cruel joke.

Before she can go to pieces, the women get a call. One of Belle’s linguistic experts, a professor at Oxford, has panned out, and they now know how to get the fairies out of the hat! They’ll just need Regina’s magic to do it, of course.

The crew heads out into the woods to set up the necessary torch fires and other things one needs when one is attempting to release magical entities from a Magic-Stealing Dream Hat. It’s dramatic, but it works, and with a blast of golden light, the fairies are huddled in a mass in the clearing. Everyone’s so concerned over the fairies they don’t notice the black smoke that seeps from the hat box, roiling along the forest floor before it grows wings, develops glowing red eyes, and wings off into the sky.

That demon has a history, of course. Back in the Forbidden Forest, Rumpelstiltskin is leading Ursula, Maleficent, and Cruella through the catacombs of Bald Mountain. He’s explained that the way to their happy endings happens to be the darkest curse ever created, and it’s being kept there. They make it through the magic booby traps Harry Potter Style, with each witch displaying a certain talent to get through them. Cruella mind-controls some bugs, Maleficent eats some fire, and Ursula’s tentacles snatch the curse from its hiding place.

But there’s just one more thing. The curse is also guarded by a Chernobog—a demon who seeks to destroy the wickedest heart he can find. Rumpelstiltskin explains this as he grabs the curse and peaces out, leaving the witches to fight the demon. They manage, although barely, but their alliance is solidified. In the years subsequent, that demon somehow managed to find its way into the Sorcerer’s Hat, waiting until now to be released.

The Chernobog needs to gather strength, apparently, so it flaps off while the rest of the town gathers at Granny’s to celebrate the return of the fairies. Mother Superior is off in a corner, trying to readjust to life on the outside and looking rather sick about it all. Henry doesn’t seem concerned by this, and he encourages Regina to ask her about the blank books.

Mother Superior recognizes the book, and reveals that, even though the books were in the Sorcerer’s mansion, the Sorcerer isn’t the Author. The Author is a totally different guy. He disappeared a long time ago, and no one’s really sure how or why. They’re trying to figure out a way to find him (he left some clues in his works! Like Henry’s book, perhaps?) when a monstrous scream erupts from outside. Looks like that hellbat has found its strength!

Everyone rushes into the streets (because why wouldn’t you do that when you hear terrible screams?) to find the Chernobog sitting atop the clock tower. He takes off as soon as Regina, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, and Hook emerge from Granny’s. They take cover behind a building in order to construct a plan to deal with this. Well, first, Emma makes a punchy remark about accidentally unleashing a demon while freeing the fairies, but since they’ve all figured out where the beast came from, they decide to make a plan to send it away. They can’t send it back into the hat, though. That’s apparently a one-and-you’re-done kind of deal. Sort of like chicken pox! Belle goes to the library to look for information, Mary Margaret and Hook lead the townspeople to safety, and Emma and Regina hide out in the mayor’s office to try to magic up a plan.

As it so happens, Rumpelstiltskin has arrived at the town line with Ursula and Cruella. Here, he reveals more of his plan. The two witches are to make contact with the Magic Dream Team in Storybrooke and offer their help with whatever problem they may be having. They’ll say they’ve changed their ways, like Regina has, and they’re looking for somewhere to start their second chance. They’ll make note of whatever magic is used to get them across the town line. Once they’re inside and no one is looking, they’ll use that magic to let The Dark One in.

And so it happens that Ursula calls Regina from Rumpel’s cell phone (they say they stole it from him and left him passed out in a bar, because why wouldn’t you?) just as the Chernobog is flapping around the mayor’s office. Ursula relates her own experience with the creature and offers insight into why it’s after Regina (evil heart!) and how to stop it.

Regina and Emma use their new-found knowledge and decide to blast it over the town line into a world without magic, after a quick call to Mary Margaret and David to let them know what they’re up to. The two take off in Emma’s Bug with the beast hot on their tail. There’s a lot of swerve-y driving, a smashed out windshield, and it ends when Emma stops short to throw the demon, which is now crouched on the roof of her car, over the town line and into nothingness.

Regina and Emma are getting ready to use The Snow Queen’s scroll to let Ursula and Cruella in when Mary Margaret and David show up to the scene. They were, um, going to help fight the beast? Or maybe they just wanted to make a very strong case for keeping the two newcomers out of their town. They’re evil and they shouldn’t be trusted.

Predictably, Regina bristles at their misgivings. She understands, of course, that there’s risk involved, but since she turned over a new leaf, Ursula and Cruella deserve a chance, as well. Emma agrees, and they toss the scroll across to Cruella, who grabs it and drives across the line. Regina offers the warmest welcome you can offer someone when you don’t trust them. Cruella responds in kind, swearing that Regina won’t regret her decision.

Later that night, Rumpelstiltskin is waiting at the town line. He’s leaning on his cane, unshaven and rather disheveled looking. He’s very much Rumpelstiltskin here, not The Dark One or Mr. Gold, but the crippled spinner who doesn’t trust the world and yet somehow can’t stop getting his heart broken by it. He’s been waiting a while, it seems, and just as he’s turning to walk away, a scroll drops behind him. Cruella and Ursula haven’t abandoned him! He limps across the town line, immediately straightening and discarding his cane as his magic returns to him.

The witches begin to press him further about his plan. He reveals that he was the “Oxford professor” who led Belle to the incantation to release the Chernobog. He knew Ursula and Cruella would be able to give insight into its defeat, therefore earning the trust of the Storybrookers. Cruella and Ursula are to continue to establish themselves in town as reformed baddies, while he goes to work on the next part of their plan to claim their happy endings. Ursula is unhappy about having to rub elbows so closely with Regina, but Rumpelstiltskin assures her that Regina isn’t the threat she used to be. And, he adds, she’s not even the biggest threat in town. That Chernobog was going after the heart that had the greatest potential for darkness, and that heart belongs to Emma Swan.

But that’ll be elaborated on another time, I’m sure. For now, they need to work on getting Maleficent back, who is only kind of dead, as it turns out.

At Granny’s, Henry is going over the illustrations in his book, looking for a sign of the Author. Emma and Hook admire what a fine young lad he is. Emma can’t help but admit how relieved she is to be surrounded by his positive influence. Between him and her parents, she says, she’s been forced to become much more of an optimist. Speaking of her parents, they were supposed to be there some time ago. Wonder what’s keeping them?

Well, here’s what’s keeping them. They’re having a secret meeting with Cruella and Ursula, at the edge of town, in the rain. The two couples trade witty remarks (apparently witty remarks are Cruella’s specialty), but Mary Margaret will not have anyone’s crap. They’re welcome in Storybrooke as long as they’re no longer evil. And also they must swear to never ever speak of what happened between the four of them in the Enchanted Forest. Especially not to Emma. Because if they do, Mary Margaret, concludes, Regina won’t be one of their worries, because she’ll rip their hearts out herself.

Ah, Soap Opera Fairytales. I’ve missed you. OUAT has set itself up for a truly interesting plot with relevant things happening to the main characters. It’s been too long since that happened. I’m glad to have it back. See you next week!

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 8:00 pm on ABC

Photo ABC/Jack Rowand

Photo ABC/Jack Rowand

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The Spell of Shattered Sight has descended on Storybrooke, having its desired effect of turning everyone against everyone else. Charming and Snow are sniping at each other. Kristoff is ruing his life decisions, especially the one where he decided to marry Anna. For her part, Anna is trying to be as positive as possible, but she can’t bear the negative energy for too long. She leaves the room to find her sister and Emma and baby Neal.

Emma and Elsa, determined to break The Snow Queen’s curse, but they’re at a total loss for how. Anna conveniently remembers the origins of the curse (disclosed to her by Ingrid in a Villain Soliloquy before she cursed her). The details of the legend of the Trolden Glass aren’t important here, what’s important is that in the legend the only way to break the curse was to kill the king who cast it. Elsa’s horrified at prospective murder, but Emma (and Anna) seem far less troubled. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to break a curse. Emma knows that more than anyone. Elsa insists that they at least try to reach out to Ingrid to get her to break the curse with her own power. She and Elsa decide to go look for The Snow Queen to see if they can’t convince her (with their powers, or otherwise) to stop the curse. Anna is more than a little miffed about being left behind, but she accepts her babysitting duties when Elsa reassures her that she and Emma will find a way to stop the curse.

Now that the curse has been cast, and everyone in Storybrooke is at each other’s throats, Ingrid is free to stalk around in her ice-queen-finery without having to worry about a low profile. This is good, apparently, because she needs to retrieve a couple purple rock-things (like the kind that had Belle’s memories of her mother!) from the ice cream parlor. Elsa and Emma catch up to her outside and confront her, ordering her to stop the curse, then threatening her with magic if she won’t.

Except, neither Elsa nor Emma can summon their powers. In the placid, assured tones of someone who is completely off of her rocker, Ingrid explains that the love that’s contained in the ribbons the three wear protects each of them from harm. So, as long as they’re all wearing the ribbons, their powers will be useless against her. But it’s all beside the point, she continues, because soon Elsa and Emma will love Ingrid for real and everything will be as fine as it can be in a little town that shouldn’t exist that’s been cursed since its appearance.

Ingrid disappears, and Emma and Elsa see about removing the ribbons. They start at Gold’s Pawnshop, but being as Gold is off packing for his delusional future with Belle and Henry, they only manage to ransack the showroom a bit. After breaking a few blades trying to cut the ribbons off, Emma experiences a moment of clarity: the ribbons have so much love in them that they’re impossible to remove with traditional methods. But what if they could blast them off with some magical hatred? That would probably work, right?

And, as luck would have it, they happen to have an endless supply of angry magical hatred, and it’s sealed up in a vault just waiting for them. Under the curse, Regina is angrier than ever at everyone who’s ever wronged her. As she stews in her vault, she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. I had a bit of a heart-skip, because I thought she was going to remember The Genie, but instead, she’s appalled by her business-smart wardrobe. A lady powersuit isn’t the garb of a queen. In a puff of purple smoke, she’s restored to her Enchanted Forest regalia (AND SHE LOOKS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT RIGHT DOWN TO THE LIPSTICK).

Emma manages to blast her way into the vault with Elsa close behind her. Emma has a plan! She’s going to be as antagonistic as possible to Regina and hope that she can catch a blast of magic in just the right way to destroy the ribbon but not get hurt herself. It’s an ambitious plan, but Emma’s the Savior, and she’s descended from a long line of people who got things to work by simply believing that they would. Emma first tries to take a jab at Regina’s wardrobe with a “too late for Halloween” joke, but Regina rebuffs her like she wears that gown—with the “poise and grace of a queen.” Not discouraged, Emma makes a few (untrue) comments about how Emma planned to bring Marian to Storybrooke just to screw with Regina, and Regina does just what Emma expects. With a well-placed leap, Emma manages to put her and Elsa’s wrists into the path of hate-fueled magic without befalling much harm. The rubble created by the blast is enough to stall Regina for a bit so that Elsa and Emma can go face The Snow Queen with their powers uninhibited.

Once Regina comes to, she goes to the sheriff station in search of Emma. She doesn’t find her, of course, but she does find Snow and Charming locked up in separate cells, with Kristoff chained to a desk and Anna trying to keep everyone in good spirits. Regina allows herself to delay vengeance against Emma in favor of vengeance against Snow and Charming. Anna tries to diffuse the tension, but rambling, nervous chatter isn’t something Regina suffers. She’s annoyed by the two strangers present, and sends them “back to where they came from” in a swirl of purple smoke.

With Anna’s tittering gone, Regina again focuses on Snow. Snow is just as anxious to take on Regina as Regina is to engage Snow. Regina swears that Snow isn’t worth being destroyed by magic. She wants to do it the old-fashioned way. Snow’s cell swings open, both women, armed with swords, and the melee begins. It kind of isn’t worth going through a blow-by-blow, but there are some great exchanges between Regina, Queen of Sass and Snow White, Princess Badass.

But wait Regina sent Anna and Kristoff “back where they came from! Are they back in Arendelle?!

No. They’re at the beach, which is apparently the closest that Regina’s magic could get them (which makes sense! Yay for magic making sense in this season at least once!) Cursed Kristoff wants to swim back to Arendelle, but Anna knows isn’t possible. Unable to convince him otherwise, she knocks him unconscious to keep him from trying anything while he’s too cursed to think correctly. And, conveniently, she uses the bottle that her dearly departed mother sent her a message in all those years ago that also very conveniently came through the portal with them when Elsa wished on the necklace! (Well, magic making sense was nice while it lasted). Anyway, the bottle breaks open and Anna finds her mother’s letter and moved to tears and needs to find Elsa right away to tell her about everything! And Ingrid too!

Well, at least both women are in the same place. Emma and Elsa have gone to The Snow Queen’s lair, where Ingrid is waiting for them , unafraid. In the same assured-as-only-a-crazyperson-can-be tones as

earlier, she explains that the three of them will come to love her. True, they managed to destroy the ribbons that she was using to keep their powers in check against her, but they’ll all be a happy family soon enough, so she’s not exactly worried that these two witches are coming at her with their powers ready. They’re hesitating, and Ingrid knows it. And she also knows why! She produces the two rocks she took from the parlor earlier and explains that they’re Elsa and Emma’s memories of Ingrid. Everyone knows magic can’t create love, but Ingrid is planning on using magic to manipulate things so that Emma and Elsa will remember the good times that they had with Ingrid.

Earlier episodes this season gave us the story of how Elsa came to bond with Ingrid, but we still haven’t seen much about Emma’s past with her. Well, until tonight. Our flashback sequence tonight wasn’t of The Enchanted Forest or Arendelle, but instead began in Boston in 1982. We follow Ingrid as she wanders around the city, and witness an encounter with a “psychic” that goes about as well as you’d expect. (As in, the psychic is a charlatan and Ingrid’s displeased).

The next time we see Ingrid is in the scene that immediately follows what Emma found on her camcorder tape. Emma is in the foster home with a jerk named Kevin and Ingrid comes to her assistance. Ingrid is reassuring, and Emma appears to be accepting. However, as soon as Ingrid leaves the room, D-Bag Kevin gets in Emma’s face again. There won’t be someone around to protect her all the time.

Emma decides to run away from the foster home, but Ingrid catches her at the front door. Ingrid plays the scene perfectly—offering sympathy for Emma’s troubles, acknowledging that no one can stop Emma from leaving, and shamelessly hinting that D-Bag Kevin is afraid of spiders and that a lot of plastic spiders hidden in Ingrid’s desk. It’s the right amount of disinterest and truth for Emma to decide she wants to stay.

The two bond. Ingrid remains supportive of Emma, and Emma’s taken aback by what it’s like to be looked after and loved. They even manage to win a toy from a claw machine, but it takes Emma possibly short-circuiting the machine with her quiescent magic to actually win her a stuffed Dalmatian (FORESHADOWING ALERT! Cruella de Ville’s confirmed as a character for the next story arc). Ingrid’s encouraged by the spark of magic she sees in Emma and wants to foster any possibility that it would develop. Unfortunately Ingrid is still pretty unhinged, so she tries to create a near-death experience for Emma to see if she can jostle some powers out of her (like she did when she killed that guy!)

It doesn’t go as well. Ingrid drags Emma into oncoming traffic. Emma is understandably terrified. Ingrid tries to explain the best she can, but Emma’s convinced that Ingrid is crackers (true!) and wants nothing to do with her. It’s assumed that Emma does what she needs to do to get transferred away from Ingrid’s care.

The two meet again in Storybrooke in 2011. Ingrid is running the ice cream parlor and Emma, who has just arrived in town and is beginning to a to forge a relationship with Henry, drops by for some ice cream. Emma immediately recognizes Ingrid and reacts exactly as you would expect pre-Savior Emma to react. She’s completely unnerved and accuses Ingrid of following her. Ingrid attempts to explain but the

confrontation soon reaches a boiling point at which Ingrid takes Emma’s memories of her away (somehow. In a land without magic. Just go with it.)

And the good parts of that story are what Ingrid plans on releasing back into Emma so that Emma will accept Ingrid as her sister.

And it ends just in time for Anna to burst in with the scroll from her parents! So! Very! Convenient!

Anna begins to read the letter aloud. In it, Gerda admits that she was wrong to want to contain and hide Elsa’s powers, just as she was so wrong to act out against her own sister so long ago. The letter confesses everything, even where Ingrid’s urn is, and includes the crystalized memories that she stole from everyone in Arendelle. Queen Gerda loved her sister so much, and was so wrong to act against her, and is so terribly sorry, the letter confides. Elsa’s powers are in reality a blessing, and she’s so sorry that it’s too late for her to make amends.

Elsa’s moved, but Ingrid is too far removed from sanity to react appropriately. She magically seizes Anna, trying to harm her because Anna is too different and will see her as a threat one day. Anna insists that, since her mother was able to forgive and love Ingrid, she will be able to, too. Ingrid continues to magically rage, but then she trips over the letter and reads it for herself.

Memories of girls playing in orchards and dancing at balls flash across the screen. Ingrid’s brought to tears, weeping. She realizes that she was wrong to try to curse the town and steal Emma and Elsa away. She has to undo the curse.

But the only way to undo the curse is for her to die! Emma and Elsa protest, but Ingrid tearfully sacrifices herself. The letter has assured her that she did have the love of her sisters, which is what she’s wanted all along. So, this is the part of the episode where I ugly cried so hard I had to take my glasses off, and I scared both of my cats awake despite not being in the same room as them.

And so the curse begins to break across the town. The Dwarves stop trying to strangle each other. Snow and Regina drop their swords, incredulously laughing at one another at how dramatic they both have been. Regina realizes that the regal finery isn’t the right tone for Storybrooke and magicks herself back into a powersuit. You’re perfect either way, Regina. You just do you.

They gather the baby and spill into the streets to join everyone else in spinning around in no-longer-cursed delight. They run into Elsa, Emma, Anna, and Kristoff (retrieved from his beach-nap). There is so much relieved hugging, you guys. And it’s kind of not a fairytale ending unless Snow White and Prince Charming have a scene-stealing kiss, now is it?

And, oh, I wish I could say “The End!” and stare off in wonderment over what next week’s midseason finale could reveal. But I can’t. Because Rumpelstiltskin.

He’s still planning to sacrifice Hook and cleave himself of the dagger. Cursed Storybrooke or no cursed Storybrooke, he wants to leave town with Belle, Henry, and his powers intact. (Possibly for world-domination, per a vague and menacing comment made to Hook toward the end of the show.) Early in

the show, Gold sent Hook to find where Henry had been hidden, and Hook did so with as much angst as someone who doesn’t have a heart can have. He tracked Henry to Regina’s office, but ultimately failed to retrieve him, because Hook wasn’t around to watch Saturday morning cartoons and so was totally unprepared for the Lots Of Marbles On The Floor trap that Henry had laid out in front of the door. Belle is still under a protective spell/passed out in the back room of the pawnshop. Gold gives Hook one last night before the stars will align and allow him to cast the spell that will remove him from the thrall of the dagger but leave his powers intact.

So, now we know what will be happening next week! Rumpel will get revealed as a bad guy, someone may or may not die because it’s a midseason finale and usually someone dies on this show, and I enter an emotionally despondent state because Once Upon A Time has used the traumatically-injured hopeful-child-turned-coward-turned-villain-turned-hero-turned-villain to break my heart into impossibly tiny pieces.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 8:00 pm on ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We open to the forest outside Storybrooke. The Snow Queen admires her Curse of Shattered Sight as it builds in a menacing, glass-shards-filled cloud over the town. She’s joined by Rumpelstiltskin. He can’t resist a few taunts, but he wants to make a deal. He’s already dealt with Ingrid to make sure that he’ll be able to leave after Storybrooke tears its cursed self apart. But, now that he’s thought on it, he wants to take Belle and Henry with him as well. How in the world he’s going to explain why the three of them get to leave while their loved ones remain and suffer I don’t know. I hope I won’t have to find out, because hopefully everything will stop and Rumpelstiltskin won’t be able to make any more deals that will blow up in his face. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Across town, The Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust (minus Rumpel, because he’s too busy being a bad guy and ruining his marriage) is watching the cloud gather. They figure they’ll try to leave Storybrooke before the curse hits, since they don’t have much time. They all gather at the wall and Charming does his best to strike a hole into it, but that only makes the ice thicker. So, that’s going to be a no-go. They decide to split up and try to prepare for the curse in a different way. And, as luck would have it, the disturbance in the ice wall has made a conveniently placed crack that reveals Anna’s lost necklace. Elsa immediately sees it. She and Emma decide to go to the pawnshop to see if Gold or Belle can help them. Regina takes Henry to Robin Hood’s camp to warn them. Mary Margaret, David, and everyone else set out to alert the rest of the townspeople of their coming disaster.

Emma and Elsa are with Belle at Gold’s Pawnshop. Belle (looking very much the part of a knows-her-stuff antiquities dealer, behind the counter with volumes spread out in front of her), explains that, while she hasn’t found a way to undo the spell, she’s found a way to make a sort of vaccine against it. A potion the fairies make, that utilizes something from someone who has already been affected by the curse. With that, everyone can be inoculated. Since Elsa found Anna’s necklace, they can use the locator spell to find Anna, produce said potion saving the town! Belle agrees to assemble the fairies at Granny’s to get the potion started, and Emma and Elsa head out to find Anna.

Having all the fairies in one place could backfire, though. Gold is running short on time to gather magic to cleave himself of the dagger that controls him. But, he’s got Killian’s heart and the (still unnamed) Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic Stealing Dream Hat, so he’s got what he needs. He’s going to extract Belle from Granny’s, he tells Killian, and once Belle is out of harm’s way, Killian will use the hat to capture all the fairies and all their magic. Of course, this means that they won’t be able to make the cure that they’re all working on, thus certainly dooming the town to fall under the curse. Killian reminds him of this, but The Dark One scoffs. He’ll be able to save his wife and his grandson, and that’s all that really matters to him.

Okay, time out for just a minute.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN. HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN HOW YOU SACRIFICED YOURSELF TO SAVE HENRY AND THE ENTIRE TOWN FROM THE WRATH OF PETER PAN?! YOU WERE A HERO ONCE! WHAT THE HECK HAS HAPPENED TO YOU!?!? You even had a tearful graveside confession with your dead son! You swore you’d make sure his death wasn’t meaningless! Then, in the next scene, you realize the Sorcerer’s Hat

has somehow fallen right into your lap, and you throw it all away?!? WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE DONE WITH ALL OF THIS. THERE BETTER BE A DAMN GOOD EXPLANATION WAITING FOR ME AT MIDSEASON FINALE OR I AM GONNA BE SO MAD AT YOU.

Ok. Back to business.

The necklace leads Emma and Elsa to the town’s library’s basement, which meets up with the mine tunnels. They follow the necklace to a dead-end. Elsa wants to blast her way through the wall, but Emma convinces her to stop and return topside so they can look at some maps and make a well-informed plan. The Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust reconvenes, but the news isn’t good. The dead-end they got led to is in a tricky part of the mine that will be hard to reach. In the meantime, The Blue Fairy has discovered that there might be enough magic within Anna’s necklace itself to create a vaccine. So, they’ll be able to save the town anyway! Except, the potion will destroy the necklace, which means Elsa will be back at square one when it comes to searching for her sister.

Regina, of course, pushes to convince Elsa to give up the necklace. Mary Margaret and David are uncertain they can ask Elsa to make such a sacrifice, but Regina has no time for their hope or their heroics. They’re more than heroes, she reminds them. They’re leaders, and leaders need to do what’s best for everyone, not just for the people they’re sentimental about. The Charmings relent, and Emma goes to tell Elsa that Anna’s necklace must get destroyed. Elsa looks stricken, but hands over the pouch that holds the necklace. The Charmings and Regina rush to deliver the necklace to Granny’s, where the fairies and Belle are working diligently and Gold is sitting in a corner, looking quite ill and trying to convince Belle to leave so that he can protect her. Killian is waiting just outside Granny’s with the hat, waiting for Mr. and Mrs. Gold to leave so that he can ambush the fairies. He’s not happy about it, but when The Dark One has your heart, you don’t have much of a choice.

The Charmings open the pouch to give the necklace to The Blue Fairy, and it’s immediately discovered that Elsa has played a bit of a wild card. She couldn’t give up on finding Anna, so she gave them a pouch full of rocks and took off with the necklace back into the mines. Emma runs to go find her; the Charmings and Regina begin working on a plan to keep the rest of the town safe in case their potion fails.

Emma comes upon Elsa quickly in the mines. She’s at the dead-end again, ready to blast it with magic to see if Anna is waiting for her behind the wall. Emma tries to stop her, but she can’t. Elsa blasts the wall to reveal… the beach?

Maps must have been wrong, the women surmise, and they’re walking along Storybrooke’s shoreline as they try to figure out why the necklace lead them there, since Anna is nowhere to be seen. Where has she been all this time? Why isn’t the magic working? The light from the locator spell begins to fade. For whatever reason, it appears that hope is lost.

Well, back in Arendelle, Anna and Kristoff thaw from the spell Ingrid used to freeze the entire kingdom. Anna sees a piece of gold straw and guesses that Rumpelstiltskin came along and has taken the urn with him. Kristoff isn’t entirely convinced, but it’s at least a starting point. They agree to set out to Misthaven/The Enchanted Forest to find Rumpelstiltskin and save Elsa from the urn.

It’s a good plan, but one that’s interrupted by a very un-frozen Prince Hans. Elsa is missing, and he’s just heard Anna confess to locking her into an urn. He’s taken over as Diplomatic Protector of Arendelle, since all suitable heirs for the throne are currently compromised. A quick melee ensues as he and his guards try to capture Anna and Kristoff, but the two manage to escape.

Once they’re safely away, Anna confesses to Kristoff that she’s read more of her mother’s diary, and she maybe wants to change their plan. It seems that, regardless of any hooey Rumpelstiltskin might have thrown her way about looking for a way to remove Elsa’s powers, her parents were in search of a piece of fairy magic called a wishing star, and it’s possibly held by a pirate captain named Blackbeard. She thinks they should try to find that, maybe, instead of going back to Rumpelstiltskin. Pirates are easier to deal with, and probably The Dark One’s going to be mad at Anna for taking his hat and maybe that’s a battle that can be fought another day. Buying off a pirate seems like a much better plan than facing an angry wizard, doesn’t it?

The two manage to find Blackbeard (aboard the Jolly Roger, interestingly enough). They try to deal for the wishing star, but instead they’re ambushed by Prince Hans and his Doucheguards. Blackbeard, it seems, got wind of Anna and Kristoff’s intentions, and Hans was able to convince him to turn the lovebirds over for a great sum of gold. Since Hans wants to rule Arendelle and Blackbeard just wants to get paid, they sail to the middle of the ocean to dispose of the two things standing in their way: Anna and Kristoff. And, since Blackbeard is a villain, he can’t help but regale them with a tale as they travel. Once upon a time, he had a wishing star in his possession, but he already sold it to Anna’s parents, who couldn’t even use the damn thing because they weren’t pure of heart. And in that amount of time, they’ve managed to make it to the spot where Anna’s parents drowned.

Blackbeard and Hans begin to bind Kristoff and Anna for their plunge into Poseidon’s Graveyard (I assume that they didn’t call it Davy Jones’ Locker because the Pirates of the Caribbean already drove that into the ground), Anna is still sputtering a mile-a-minute, trying to make sense of these events. (I’ll be honest. At that point, so was I). In trying to answer her exasperating questions, Hans drops a bomb: All of Arendelle has been frozen since Anna trapped Elsa in the urn, and they all only unfroze a few days ago.

They’ve all been frozen for thirty years.

We aren’t watching a flashback. This is happening here and now as Ingrid’s curse only broke when she started casting the Shattered Sight curse in Storybrooke. As Kristoff and Anna are bound, loaded into a truck, and unceremoniously pitched into the ocean, Elsa’s on a beach with Emma, holding Anna’s necklace and grieving over her sister.

The trunk sinking and filling with water, Kristoff struggles to break free of his bonds. He manages, and sets to work to free Anna. It seems, though, Anna has lost all hope. She begins to recite wedding vows so that she can marry Kristoff before he dies. We’re also treated to a pull-away shot, which shows that their trunk has landed next to the message-in-a-bottle that Anna’s mother penned for her children just before she died.

And in Storybrooke, Elsa continues to clutch Anna’s necklace and wishes she could see her sister again. That necklace, if you’ll recall, got created by Elsa out of one of their mother’s jewels. Or, it wasn’t a jewel so much, as a wishing star. Elsa has just wished on a wishing star, people! Yes, it is as completely out-of-the-blue and abrupt as you think it is, but there is a lot of plot to cover and not a lot of time left to do it! The trunk pops up out of the water a few yards from where Emma and Elsa are standing, and Anna and Kristoff quickly break free. The barnacle-crusted bottle with Helga’s message to her children came along, as well. Convenient! Except no one notices it so they leave it in the water. Oh well, maybe they’ll get it later?

So, that’s that. Elsa and Anna reunite, everyone is ecstatic, and they all haul ass across town so that the fairies can use some of Anna’s hair in their curse vaccine.

It wasn’t ever going to be that easy, though.

The four arrive at Granny’s to find everything smashed to bits, and everyone missing. Gold managed to lure Belle away from the diner, and Killian seized the opportunity to trap all the fairies in the Sorcerer’s Hat (not that he had a choice, really). So, despite recovering Anna in what would have been the nick of time, there will be no potion and no cure for the town of Storybrooke. Time for Plan B, then.

Plan B is basically locking everyone away while Elsa and Emma try to work against The Snow Queen to break her curse. In the sheriff’s station, Anna and Kristoff share a brief reunion with David (and some jokes about how freakin’ awful David’s hair was when he met Anna) before they lock themselves away in the holding cells. Mary Margaret hands baby Neal to Emma, tearfully telling her that she believes that Emma’s magic will find a way to break the curse, and that she trusts Emma to take care of Neal until that happens. It’s a speech Emma needed to hear from her mother, especially considering this season’s “Mary Margaret Is Kind Of Being A Jerk To Emma” storyline.

Regina, who earlier took Henry to Robin Hood’s camp to warn him of the curse, decides to lock Henry in the Mayor’s office. Regina is full of regrets, but Henry still has his Truest Believer heart. The curse will pass, he assures her, and Operation Mongoose will be back, better than ever.

She seals him away just as Robin Hood rushes to her side. I could give you a breakdown of the adorable things they say to each other, but I won’t ever be able to do it justice. Regina’s terrified of the horrible things the curse will bring out in her. Robin’s convinced he’ll love her anyway. She doesn’t believe him, but she wants to believe him enough to share an extremely hot kiss before she rushes off to her vault.

Rumpel manages to convince Belle to be sealed in a protective spell within the pawn shop. She’s terrified, of course, but he assures her that the curse will pass, and that they’ll be safe together once it’s all over. (LIAR, LIAR PANTS ON FIRE AND SHE IS GONNA LEAVE YOU WHEN SHE FINDS OUT, SIR.) She hides in the back room of the shop as he uses the dagger to cast an enchantment around the building. Killian arrives to deliver his hatful of fairies, but he isn’t happy about it. Rumpelstiltskin, being every inch

the Crocodile that Hook despises, tells Killian to run along and enjoy his last few hours on earth. Just a few more preparations to make before The Dark One crushes Killian’s heart to free himself of the dagger’s control! UGH. RUM. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?

Killian uses that time to find Emma at the sheriff’s station. Their tearful goodbye exchange is fairytale-perfect, except for the part where Emma notices that her mouth feels weird after he’s kissed her. (PROBABLY BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE A HEART).

And so, with Mary Margaret and David locked in their cells, Regina in her vault, Gold standing guard in front of the pawn shop, and Killian chained to a dock for some reason, the curse arrives and falls on Storybrooke.

There’s only one more episode until the midseason finale. Once Upon A Time, you have eighty-four minutes to tear the roof off of this piece and put it back on so that I don’t suffer some sort of emotional meltdown while you’re on hiatus. Get to it.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 8:00 pm on ABC.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

It’s hard to write about a double episode that has only left you doubly emotionally scarred.

Ingrid has Anna trapped in the dungeons, but she needs to make a quick trip before Elsa notices that her family is gone. She’s got to see a man about a hat.

When she arrives at the Apprentice’s cottage, he immediately sees her for what she is. The sorcerer, he states, has no interest in dealing with someone like her. Ingrid reveals that she has the hat, and the game changes significantly. With the Apprentice’s sword to her throat, she outlines her desires: she wants a family like she once had. But, instead of ordinary sisters like hers, who grew to resent her powers, she wants magic sisters. Presumably, she wants magic sisters because in case one accidentally magically murders another, the remaining sister is bound to be more understanding than Helga was to Ingrid. She already has Elsa, and she’s looking for a third. She’ll wait as long as it takes, but Sorcerer is not getting the Amazing Magic Stealing Dream Hat back before she gets what she wants.

In Arendelle, Elsa ‘s preparing a treat for Anna when Ingrid enters and begins lying her face of, like she does. She tells Elsa a bunch of nonsense about the magic-stealing hat and Anna plotting to trap Elsa and Ingrid inside. Because she is a good liar, she also tells a bit of the truth: that Anna found out in Misthaven that she and Elsa’s parents really did go looking for a way to take Elsa’s magic. Elsa’s crushed. She rushes to the dungeons and demands answers from Anna.

Well, she does until the guards leave, at least. Elsa knows that Anna would never do such a thing, and she’s convinced that Ingrid is lying to her. She wants to break Anna out of jail so that they can steal the urn and recapture Ingrid. Elsa isn’t sure where the urn could be hidden, but Anna has a good guess.

They go to the wing of the castle that used to be the three sisters’ chambers. Very easily (suspiciously easily), they find the urn in a wardrobe, side by side with a frozen Prince Hans. They sneak Anna back into her cell past a sleeping guard (their guards are really not very good). Elsa will go tell Ingrid that Anna is to be banished and Ingrid is to handle it. When Auntie Crazy Face goes to Anna’s cell, Anna will open the urn and trap her.

But that doesn’t quite work. Ingrid has been following the girls the whole time. As soon as Elsa leaves, Ingrid chains Anna to the floor, causing her to drop the urn. Ingrid curses Anna with the Spell of Shattered Sight and sets her loose on Elsa. Ingrid allows the conversation between the sisters to become acrimonious before stepping in. Elsa demands an explanation, and Ingrid admits that she put a spell on Anna. Instead of telling her that it’s a spell that makes people think the worst possible things about each other, though, she tells Elsa that it was a spell that revealed a person’s true feelings. Anna continues to spew bile at Elsa, but Elsa refuses to believe that Anna is telling the truth. Ingrid, realizing that she’s not convincing Elsa that her sister holds such hatred for her, turns on Anna to further incite her against Elsa. Anna eventually opens the urn. Elsa doesn’t fight the trap. She knows that they love each other, she insists as she fades into the trap. They’ll be together again some day.

Anna’s spell’s broken. She comes to, reeling from what she’s just been compelled to do. Kristoff enters with a bow drawn, but they’re no match for Ingrid. In a flash, she freezes the castle (in an eerie “Let It Go” kind of way) and Anna and Kristoff along with everything else. Nothing for her to do now except wait for the Sorcerer to come tell her that she’s got a third sister.

Rumpelstiltskin, though, has other plans. He pays The Snow Queen a visit as she’s performing a memory charm on Elsa within the urn. He knows that Anna’s been frozen. He knows that Ingrid stole the hat from Anna. Ingrid refuses, but Rumpelstiltskin steals Elsa’s urn from Ingrid’s arms and holds it ransom. She won’t get Elsa back until he gets the hat. He promptly peaces out.

Ingrid goes to retrieve the hat, which she’s hidden under ice magic in a cave (where everyone hides their hats) and is about to summon Rumpelstiltskin when the Apprentice appears. He’s not a fan of someone double-dealing with what’s supposed to be the Sorcerer’s. Ingrid explains that Rumpelstiltskin has taken Elsa, but the Apprentice relays another deal. The Sorcerer has found that her perfect sister will exist, but she won’t be born for some time. The child of Snow White and Prince Charming will satisfy Ingrid’s demands. If she hands over the hat, the Apprentice explains, he’ll transport her to a realm where she’ll meet this sister and an opportunity to become her family. Ingrid accepts, because she’s not the kind to give a damn about loyalty, and she’s transported through a door and into the middle of New York City in 1982. Okay, then.

Ingrid has, assumedly, been spending all of her time in our world learning how to better mess with people’s minds. The head games Ingrid played with Emma last week (your family will never understand you! Everyone thinks you’re a monster!) have shaken Emma and her magic to her core. It’s exactly what The Snow Queen wants, of course, but Emma is too consumed with fear that she may hurt her loved ones that she can’t see Ingrid’s plan. And, presumably, everyone Emma loves is too consumed with worry about Emma to see that’s what The Snow Queen is doing, either. She’s hiding out in the woods when Henry finds her. She warns him away but he continues to approach her. Her magic explodes, knocking Henry backwards and causing him to cut his head on a rock. Emma becomes more irrational and agitated when she sees Henry’s blood, and Henry is overcome with fear as well. He runs back the way he came.

Conveniently, Ingrid appears to spread some more poison and lies about how Emma’s family won’t ever understand her and will always fear her. Emma might miss the obvious manipulation, but she’s at least angry enough to want nothing to do with Ingrid. She scrambles into her Bug and drives off.

Henry comes home to find Elsa, Killian, David, and Mary Margaret recently returned from their all-night search. He explains what happened in the woods. Everyone’s devastated, but no one looks more upset than Mary Margaret. She took some internet-heat last week for her appalled reaction to Emma’s uncontrolled power blast at the sheriff station, but she’s certainly showing a lot of regret and guilt over her behavior. Elsa offers to tend to Henry while the rest of the group continues to refuel for their search. And try to get into contact with Regina. They’ve been looking for her all night, but they haven’t been able to get ahold of her.

Probably because she’s been getting the best night of, erm, “sleep” ever with Robin Hood in her vault. It’s a bruisingly hot morning-after scene, complete with disheveled stockings and man-in-undershirt. So much afterglow. They have the why-can’t-it-always-be-this-way talk. Regina explains that her fate as a villain seems to be sealed. Robin pushes back (after all, he was once a thief who became a hero), and Regina shows him Henry’s book. She explains her theory of why she can’t have a happy ending. Robin’s determined to find the author of the book, so that they can change Regina’s destiny. Well, he’s not so determined that he won’t stop to smother Regina in a couple dozen more kisses before they leave.

Okay, timeout for just a minute. I need to put this out there: Holy. Crap. Is there anything that Lana Parrilla can’t do? She has been badass and flawless in every single part of Regina’s story, from The Evil Queen in devastating corsets and hairdos, to the stone cold Mayor in business-chic and perfect lipstick, to a fresh-faced teenager in love with a stable boy, to a no-nonsense single mom who would do anything to save her son, to a vulnerable woman looking for a fresh start with the wrong man. She’s perfect in every single way. If you don’t love every last bit of Lana Parrilla, you’re just wrong.

And we’re back. So anyway. Regina arrives at Casa Charming upon receiving all the messages they’ve been sending her, asking for her help with the search for Emma and telling her about Henry’s incident. At first, everyone demands to know where she’s been, but Mary Margaret notices that Regina’s blouse is still open. She gives Regina the high-sign to button up and distracts everyone else before they can grill her further. The group takes another opportunity to sigh about just how sad it is that Emma is afraid of them because they all love her and her magic so very much. Elsa’s particularly concerned, since she’s been through such a similar situation.

For her part, Emma is hiding out in Gold’s Pawnshop. She asks for his help in getting her power under control. He gestures to a piece of parchment. He can take away her magic, he cautions, but it’s permanent, as well as fairly destructive. As long as it means that she won’t be able to hurt anyone, Emma says, she’s on board. Gold directs her to the abandoned manor, and tells her to meet him there at sundown. (THE HOUSE YOU HONEYMOONED IN, RUMPEL?! THE HOUSE WHERE YOU AND BELLE HAD THAT ADORABLE DANCE? THAT IS WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO GET UP TO NO GOOD? YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE.)

Emma calls Mary Margaret, hoping that Henry made it home alright. Mary Margaret tries to reassure Emma that he’ll be fine, but Emma is too far panicked about her magic to be consoled. She tells Mary Margaret of her plan to divest herself of her power, and hangs up before she can hear any resistance. Stunned, Mary Margaret tells the group of Emma’s intentions.

Elsa’s horrified, and Killian goes into a panic. He wants to reach Emma, but has left his “talking phone” (oh, swarthy buccaneers never quite get used to modern lingo, do they?) in David’s truck. He begs off to retrieve it. Once he’s in the hallway, though, he procures his phone from his pocket and leaves a frantic voicemail for Emma. He knows she’s dealing with Gold, and he’s desperate to stop her.

Gold has gone to taunt The Snow Queen in her lair. He’s going to trap Emma in the hat, effectively screwing any plans Ingrid may have for her. Villains don’t get happy endings, and they can’t help but divulge all their nefarious plans to those they want to victimize the most. With a touch of the best sort

of Once Upon A Time Plot Intricacies, he uses some shards of the urn Elsa got trapped in to keep her trapped in her lair while he goes to ruin Ingrid’s plan. And also Emma’s life.

Back at Casa Charming, Mary Margaret and David are trying to understand Emma’s decision to give up her powers. Mary Margaret has her reservations, but David thinks that it’s Emma’s choice and that they should support her. Maybe, he suggests, giving up her powers will be her best chance. It’s not a bad point, but it’s not a very good thing for Elsa to overhear. She knows that magic is a special gift, and Emma shouldn’t give hers up just because she’s afraid. Elsa steals the locator potion that Regina brought over to find Emma to try to stop her.

Her absence is not immediately noted. Regina and Mary Margaret run into each other in the kitchen, and, Mary Margaret wants the full dish on why Regina shuffled into the Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust meeting late and unbuttoned. Regina admits that she and Robin spent the night together, but insists that she knows the relationship’s doomed and shouldn’t even be happening in the first place. Mary Margaret isn’t getting anywhere with Regina, so the subject changes to Emma and her powers. Regina, much like Elsa, is incredulous that Emma’s family would allow Emma to give up her powers. She convinces them that it’s a bad idea, and they set out to find her. They reach for the locator potion to use on something that belonged to Emma so they can find her, but it’s gone. And so is Elsa. Sometimes, Mary Margaret and David aren’t the most observant people around.

Hook has made it to the pawnshop to look for Gold. He finds the shop in disarray, and empty. He sees Emma’s handprint on the counter in the shop. He’s frantic to reach Emma and convince her that any deal with The Crocodile will only hurt her in the end. He calls her, but gets her voicemail again. This time, he leaves a message confessing everything he knows: Gold’s plot with the hat, the fake dagger, being blackmailed by Gold –all of it. He spies the map that Gold left on the counter, pointing out their rendezvous point. He rushes to leave, hoping he can stop Emma before does anything that Gold thinks would be a good idea.

Officially everyone in Storybrooke wants Emma to flake on her deal with Gold. Although The Snow Queen’s trapped in her lair, she can still view her magic mirror. She tracks down Emma and projects herself in the middle of the road, causing Emma to swerve and skid into a bank. Emma gets out car, which is going bananas because of all her uncontrolled magic. Ingrid begs Emma to keep her powers and find another way to control them. She warns that Rumpelstiltskin will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means killing her. Emma doesn’t trust that Ingrid has the best intentions with her advice. She realizes that she’s only seeing Ingrid’s projection, and that Ingrid has no magic to use against her. Emma gets in her car to continue to meet Gold at the manor house.

Regina, Henry, Mary Margaret, and David have managed to track Emma’s car along the road and find the site of her wreck. They continue to track her on foot, and Mary Margaret corners Regina to learn the rest of the Robin Hood situation. Regina doesn’t have anything new to say—yes they’re in love, no they can’t be together, yes it’s because of that stupid book. Mary Margaret thinks that Regina needs to be a little more hopeful. Regina isn’t even kind of willing to entertain hope as an option. Mary Margaret persists, though—she and David got separated and have always reunited. Regina reminds her that Snow White’s a hero and she is the Evil Queen. Mary Margaret still doesn’t buy it, though. She’s made her fair share of mistakes, even as a child. She’s not totally good, and Regina isn’t totally evil. Everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

And, as it would happen, Regina gets a phone call. Robin Hood and Will Scarlett have been investigating the Storybrooke library (since Robin kinda stole Henry’s book earlier in the day and is trying to find some clues towards the author’s identity) and have made a breakthrough. Mary Margaret urges Regina to leave. They can look for Emma by themselves from there on out.

When Regina arrives at the library, she finds Robin nearly beside himself. She’s a bit annoyed that he stole her book, but, as Robin points out, she knew he was a thief from the beginning. He explains that he and Scarlett were looking in the library, not just because it has a lot of books, but because it’s beneath the clock tower, where the first sign of magic in Storybrooke appeared. While they were there, someone slipped a paper into his satchel. It’s an alternate engraving of Regina’s story in the book. The book’s engraving shows Regina leaving the tavern where Robin Hood was drinking, despite Tinkerbelle’s urging to go inside and meet her true love. The alternate page shows Regina and Robin Hood having a great big kiss in the middle of the tavern. Is this a sign that there are alternate versions to her story? Will they be able to find anything else from this page? Well, for right now, they’re too busy making out like teenagers to care.

At the manor, it looks like Rumpelstiltskin is doing the worst thing possible. He sets up the hat and lays it behind a door for Emma to walk into. Emma meets him inside. She tells him of her earlier conversation with The Snow Queen. He reiterates that The Snow Queen may not have Emma’s best interests at heart. The two engage in conversation that would have been really sweet, about Emma’s destiny and Gold’s weaknesses, if it weren’t for the fact that Rumpelstiltskin was, despite what he said earlier, playing Emma the entire time and plotting to trap her and steal her power.

He leaves Emma to decide whether she should walk through the door and surrender her power or not. It might have been to respect her privacy, but probably had more to do with the fact that he was expecting Killian to be outside, trying to figure out a way to save Emma. And of course Killian was there, allowing Gold to lash him to the fence while he gives another villain soliloquy. It’s not specifically Emma’s power that he needs to capture, although he wants to be certain that Killian sees Emma destroy herself. It’ll help, sure, but what he’s really been after all this time is Hook. He knew if he lured Emma away from town, Killian would eventually come looking for her. To be free of the dagger, he needs to collect power in the hat, and he needs the heart of someone who knew him before he took on The Dark Curse. And, in all the realms, the only one he knows of is Killian Jones.

There’s a blast of magic from inside the house. Elsa has found Emma and convinces her, in fairytale-perfect conversation about loving yourself as well as believing in the love of others, to keep her powers. The two join hands, and a blast of Emma’s magic radiates throughout Storybrooke. The hat’s knocked back into its box.

The look on Gold’s face lets Killian know that Emma didn’t walk into his trap. Killian gloats, like he always does, and it’s too early, like it always is. Gold removes Killian’s heart. It’s not so Gold can kill him, he assures Killian, but so he can use him as a puppet. Without Emma’s power, he’ll have to find another’s power to collect in the hat. He’ll be controlling Killian’s heart to make sure he still gets the needed power before he crushes it and completes the spell to free him of the dagger’s thrall.

Does it get any more fairytale than that?

Yup.

Elsa and Emma are catching their breath inside the house when Killian bursts into the room. A very enthusiastic, handsy sort of Killian. Emma isn’t a fan of PDA. Gold is pulling the strings on his new toy. They prepare to leave the house and joined by Mary Margaret, David, and Henry. Everyone has a happy reunion, promising to always support each other even when magic tries to get in the way. Emma releases some celebratory fireworks, which dim in the sky unexpectedly. Looking down, Elsa and Emma realize that they’re wearing yellow ribbon bracelets. The bracelets make their magic feel, well, funny. And they can’t take them off.

Rumpelstiltskin’s temporary Snow Queen Blocker has worn off. He’s there to express his grievances that Emma didn’t fall into his trap. Ingrid, of course, claims that she got trapped by Rumpelstiltskin himself and would have no way of contacting her. She waves her hand across the ribbons. The ribbons, she explains in her own villain soliloquy (can we make “villoquy” a word?) will unite the magic of three perfectly matched sorceresses. She has access to Elsa and Emma’s power, as well. She and Rumpelstiltskin exchange some fighting words. It appears that the villains are about to get their hands very dirty.

It’s funny how, after two hours and all the answers you thought you wanted, you only feel like you had even more questions than before.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The scene opens in Arendelle. Three young girls (Ingrid, Helga, and Gerta) are flying a kite in the castle gardens. They lose control of the kite, and it gets wrecked in a tree. As they’re assessing the damage (with Gerta declaring the kite just fine, since the ribbon is still intact and beautiful), a man comes along and declares that he’s the owner of a kite. Creepy McGuy’s revealed to be a kidnapper, seizing Gerta and revealing his nefarious plan aloud. Ingrid rushes the man, and blasts some of her ice magic onto a tree branch above his head. He’s distracted by the magic and drops Gerta just before the ice cracks the branch and crushes the man.

Ingrid’s terrified, but Helga and Gerta are in awe. Ingrid insists that her magic, and her inability to control it, makes her a monster. Her sisters assure her that what she has is a gift, and that they’ll help her find a way to control it. In the meantime, it will be the girls’ secret.

Flash forward several years. The girls are now teenagers, and the youngest two are getting ready for a ball. Ingrid watches on, clearly not intending to go. Gerta will introduce a suitor to her family that night, and she wants Ingrid to meet him. Ingrid demurs, and Helga and Gerta depart.

At the ball, Gerta’s suitor’s revealed only as “The Duke”– a stranger on a diplomatic mission from the neighboring land of Wesselton. He looks like a shady fellow, but his fumbling compliments to the king over Gerta and Arendelle appear genuine. The party continues, the crowd dances, and Ingrid slips along the edge of the room. She sees her family interacting with the partygoers, laughing and talking and having a lovely time. She looks as if her heart is breaking. The forlorn loneliness is hard to hide, but so is the slight snowstorm that her distress generates.

After the ball, Helga and Gerta find Ingrid in their room, packing a trunk. She wants to leave, she explains. Her sisters should feel happy, and she’s too much of a magic-ball for that to happen. Again, the younger two attempt to reassure Ingrid that her powers can be kept a secret, as long as they all love each other. Ingrid’s unconvinced. Helga offers an alternative. She’s heard of a powerful sorcerer in a far-off land that might be able to control Ingrid’s powers once and for all.

And so, to Rumpelstiltskin in the Enchanted Forest they go. Rumpelstiltskin offers her a pair of gloves that can keep Ingrid’s powers at bay as long as she believes in them. And, as a backup, a very familiar-looking urn that would at least contain Ingrid should circumstances become dire. All he wants in return are the ribbons the girls wear from the kite that almost got them kidnapped all those years ago. He explains that their love for each other as sisters has imparted magic onto them. Gerta and Helga try to talk Ingrid out of the deal, but she can’t trust that her sisters’ love alone will keep her from harming anyone. The deal’s struck.

Upon returning to Arendelle, Ingrid dawns a glittering, regal gown instead of her usual peasant clothes. She’s in the garden, holding her gloves and urn, staring off into space and reveling in a chance to finally live a normal life, when her sister’s boyfriend The Duke appears. Within a few sentences, he reveals himself to be a total creeper and starts hitting on Ingrid. Gerta never needs to know, he explains. Ugh! What a skeeve!

Gerta enters just as Ingrid blasts Mr. Duke away with some magic. He tries to paint Ingrid as the aggressor, but Gerta doesn’t buy it. He escalates matters, though, like skeevey creepers always do. He tries to blackmail the two girls to keep the magic a secret. The kingdom will turn on Ingrid for being a freak, he promises, and they’ll be so weakened that Wesselton will be able to take over. Gerta continues to rebuff him, but eventually his taunts get the better of Ingrid. She tries to blast him with magic, but Gerta steps in the way.

The blast of magic proved fatal. Gerta froze solid and crumbled into ice cubes before Ingrid’s very eyes. Helga has apparently been alerted of the commotion and comes upon the scene. Helga’s horrified. Ingrid tries to explain, but Helga is too stunned to react in anything but abject horror. She traps Ingrid in the urn before she can do any more damage.

Helga then seeks out Grand Pabbie and the rock trolls for their memory magic. The Duke is threatening to use Gerta’s death as a way to turn Arendelle against Ingrid, so that his kingdom of Wesselton may take over. Helga asks for a potion that will wipe away everyone’s memories of her sisters, so that the kingdom can remain independent. Grand Pabbie grants her request, but warns that this magic will come with a price. Helga assures him that, in losing her two sisters, she’s already paid it. He is perhaps not so sure.

As usual, the events of the past parallel the scene in Storybrooke. Emma and Elsa are doing more research in the sheriff’s station to fight The Snow Queen and her impending curse. They come across a magic candle that, if they can master it, will allow them to restrain her. The two practice working the spell, but they aren’t as successful as they could be. They’re really two novices, still unsure how to control their powers. Elsa can’t help but marvel that Emma’s family doesn’t make her feel alienated or fearful because of her powers. Emma shrugs it off. Her family loves her. They’d never be afraid of her.

But would they? Emma has promised to babysit her little brother, and so she heads over to pick him up from the Mommy-and-Me group that Mary Margaret attends (run by Cinderella, attended by Princess Aurora, because why the heck wouldn’t it be?). And, because fairytale princesses are sometimes too honest and true to be tactful, Emma begins to get the impression that her childhood wasn’t as important to her parents as Neal’s. The differences between Emma’s infancy (shoved through a magic wardrobe, spends 18 years in foster care) and Neal’s (cared for obsessively by both parents when they’re not busy saving the world) come up. It’s so upsetting that she releases a little bit of leftover magic. Mary Margaret’s reaction doesn’t inspire a lot of acceptance.

But, The Snow Queen appears to play another round of rope-a-dope with the Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust. David calls Emma to tell her that she’s appeared in the clock tower with her cursed mirror. Emma, Elsa, Hook, and David rush the clock tower, and the two sorceresses manage to execute the candle spell, binding The Snow Queen in shackles.

They haul her in to the station for interrogation. Elsa isn’t the kind to stay cool and collected around a manipulative crazy person like her aunt, so Emma sends her away to work on finding a way to disable the cursed mirror. It leaves Emma and The Snow Queen all alone in the sheriff’s station, which is exactly what The Snow Queen wanted. She’s physically shackled, but she’s still able to cast a spell around the station, freezing it shut.

Emma tries to get The Snow Queen to confess the motivation behind her agenda, but she simply says that she wants to be a family with her and Elsa. Their magic binds them all together in a way that is stronger than blood, after all. Emma demands to know why The Snow Queen first tracked her as a child and then erased her memories, but The Snow Queen will only answer that some things are best forgotten. Eventually, The Snow Queen’s taunts become too much for Emma. She loses control of her magic and blows a hole in the side of the building.

And, naturally, this happens just as the rest of the crew has realized that The Snow Queen was just trying to get caught so that she could score some alone time with Emma. Mary Margaret, David, Hook, Elsa, and Rumpelstiltskin, panic at the destruction at the station, and Emma is so upset she can barely explain what has happened. They try to comfort her, but Emma flinches away, and throws another wave of magic that accidentally knocks a light pole onto her father. Everyone’s horrified, and Emma doesn’t miss a beat.

Her powers really do alienate her. She’s a danger. Usually, Emma is too savvy to be emotionally manipulated, but her relationship with her family is her most vulnerable spot, and The Snow Queen knows it. Mary Margaret realizes first that Emma feels ashamed of what she’s done, and tries to reassure her, but it’s too late. Emma runs to her car and drives away.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Regina’s again in her vaults, researching her magic and trying to find a cure for Marian. Robin Hood enters. The man just can’t get enough of telling Regina that he’s still in love with her, and that he can’t find a way to love Marian. Regina is getting pretty tired of having to pull herself away from the man he loves so he can save his wife’s life. And she damn well should. Robin, if you love Regina so damn much, quit walking around the woods mooning for her and do what she asks. Quit forcing her to push you away! Gaaahhhhhh!!!

Robin goes to throw darts at Granny’s (because when you’re romantically frustrated, throwing pointy objects at a circle feels good?) Will Scarlett pops in for a drink, but sees Robin and tries to back away. Robin spies him (well, actually, he throws a dart at his head), and the two sidle up to the bar for the kind of drink that two men share when they share not only animosity for one another, but also being in a very sad state of affairs. Full disclosure: Will Scarlett is also a character in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, the spinoff series that I don’t watch. The two have a heart to heart about their former friendship that ended when Will betrayed the Merry Men for love. There could be allusions to plot points here that I don’t follow.

But Robin also tells Will how he met Marian (a story that Will has heard, he proclaims, three dozen and one times). Back in Robin Hood’s stealing-for-himself days, he poached Marian’s father’s horse. Robin was doing better as a thief than Marian’s family was doing trying to earn an honest living, and their livelihood depended on the horse Robin stole. Marian went to him and plead for his mercy. The following day, he returned the stolen horse, plus the two he already had.

And from that moment on, Robin Hood began to steal from the rich and give to the poor. It wasn’t an easy road, cleaning up his act, but being loved by Marian inspired him to become a better man. It wasn’t an easy life for Marian, either. Will, confides that he once asked her why she stuck around with the thief. She replied that she saw good in Robin even if he didn’t, and that it was their love that kept the good within him.

It’s a touching scene, and Robin appears wracked with emotion as he remembers his wife. Curious, then, that he runs back to Regina’s vault. Bless you, Regina, for not slapping him in the face and hauling him by the ear to the door. She tries to give him another earful of the reasons why he should leave her alone, but he interrupts her. He’s lived his life he says, by a certain code. Day in and day out, he’s stolen from the rich to give to the poor, he’s been truthful, honest, and brave. Seems kind of puzzling things to proclaim to a woman that you’re in love with when you’re married to someone else. Robin admits as much, and pulls Regina into a steamy embrace that she tries her very best to resist. But, even though Robin’s an emotionally stunted dummy, he’s got some dreamy green eyes and a girl can withstand so much.

And, with the Outlaw and Queen pawing at each other in the vault, and The Charmings trying to find a way to convince Emma that they don’t fear her, the town is settling in for the night. No one out on the streets, no one looking out their windows.

That “Closed” sign on Gold’s Pawnshop really means nothing.

He knows that it’s The Snow Queen paying him a visit before he even turns around. She’s ready to make a deal. She wants the ribbons back, and she’s willing to give The Dark One information. She knows, she says, what he’s up to with that hat he found. He wants to be free of the dagger’s control without losing his powers. He wants to be able to leave Storybrooke and rule a bigger, more impressive realm with Belle at his side. But he hasn’t been able to. And, it so happens, she had the Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic Stealing Dream Hat for a long time. She knows the piece of the puzzle that he’s missing. It’s a big deal, though, so she wants more than just the ribbons she gave him in the Enchanted Forest. She’s certain he’s plotting to take over the rest of the world. She just wants Storybrooke, so that she can live happily ever after with Emma and Elsa.

It’s a good enough deal for Rumpelstiltskin. He produces the ribbons, but he bids her to tell him her part of the bargain first. She leans in and whispers in his ear. He smiles an absolutely Rumpelstiltskin-up-to-no-good smile. He’ll need to do something to complete his work with the hat. And, apparently, it’s something he’ll do with great pleasure.

Just a guess, but he’s probably not going to be doing anything that will make Belle very happy if she finds out about it.

Hopefully we’ll find out next week. We’d better. It’s a double episode. In two hours, I’d better see some RumBelle, too.

The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Remember how I said that I wasn’t surprised that Rumpelstiltskin and Belle hadn’t had much use in the plot so far, because they’d have little to do with the Frozen storyline?

I love it when I’m wrong.

The events in the Enchanted Forest take precedent tonight. We open to a woman frantically packing books in a castle. The castle is under attack, but whatever she’s trying to save is too important to leave to “those monsters.” Soldiers warn the woman to find her daughter and disembark immediately. Then, Belle bursts into the room, shouting for her mother.

IT’S BELLE’S MOTHER. FINALLY, A BELLE EPISODE AND IT IS ABOUT DAMNED TIME.

It’s not a happy scene, though—an ogre crashes through the door of the library, and the two women cower beneath a table. The ogre flips the table over and roars, and the next scene is Belle startling out of a nightmare. She rushes from her bedroom in the castle in search of her mother, but instead she finds herself in the midst of her mother’s funeral. Her father reaches out to comfort her as she sobs and proclaims that she can’t remember anything.

She’s disturbed that she can’t remember her mother’s death. She begins to study nonstop, piling books around her as she goes, looking for a solution to her plight. Her father approaches her, concerned for her well-being. She isn’t healthy, according to the doctors. She informs him that she’s found information about magic creatures that can restore memories, and that she plans to seek them out so that she can recover what happened to her mother. Her father is irate that she is exerting herself in such a way, and doubly so that she wants to use magic to restore her mind. The price of magic, he cautions, is steep. He forbids her to journey to these creatures and insists she stay in the tower until the doctors say she has recovered. He then storms out of the room, and Belle, like many other willful teenage daughters, begins to plan her voyage. She looks at the parchment before her, vowing to find a way to retrieve her memories, even if it means disobeying her father and traveling to “this place”—Arendelle.

In Arendelle, Elsa and are Anna reunited. Anna claims that her mission to the Enchanted Forest was fruitless and she found nothing why here parents had gone there. Not true, of course, but I have a feeling Rumpelstiltskin didn’t tell her the whole truth about her parents anyway, so I’m not as concerned as I normally might be about this lie. Elsa excitedly tells Anna that she has met their aunt Ingrid, and that she is helping her control her powers. Anna is astounded—why didn’t their mother ever mention a sister?

Ingrid enters, explaining that a long time ago she got locked in an urn by people who didn’t understand magic. And that’s nice, but that doesn’t quite answer what Anna asked, nor does she offer any real answers to Anna’s other mile-a-minute questions. Elsa is dazedly happy to have not only more family in her life, but someone with powers like hers. She dismisses Anna’s concerns, but Anna smells a rat.

She goes to Kristoff and tells him of her reservations. She convinces him to cover for her in the castle while she travels to the rock trolls to see if they can help her uncover the truth about Ingrid. On her way to see Kristoff’s family, she runs in to Belle, who is searching for the rock trolls with a not-so-helpful map. Anna brightens when she hears Belle’s destination and insists that they journey together.

The two share a girl-time-intense trek to Anna’s future in-laws. They bond over one of the oldest fairytale-princess-traits in the book, their dead mothers. I don’t mean to seep flip–it’s quite a touching conversation. Anna also tells Belle about the hat she kind of stole from Rumpelstiltskin and the powers it has. This show just can’t resist scenes like Anna giving Belle a stern look and saying, in regards to The Dark One, “I hope you never cross paths with him.” That’s good, because I am a total sucker for exactly that kind of fluff.

Belle explains her dilemma to Grand Pabbie (who agrees to help the girls, but only after ribbing Anna about the postponed wedding), who is basically all “Yeah I got this” and, with a quick spell, her blocked memories transform into a crystal. The crystal, he explains, will unlock the memories if she takes it to the place where her mother died. Anna then asks to speak to Grand Pabbie in private, so she ask him about Ingrid and explain her misgivings.

And misgivings she should have. Grand Pabbie admits that he knew of Anna’s mother Gerta, and of Ingrid, and that there was a third sister, Helga. Thick as thieves, that bunch, until one day Ingrid and Helga disappeared. What happened was quite traumatic, he explains, and so at the behest of the king and queen, he removed the memory of the girls from everyone in Arendelle, and the royal family had their records eliminated. Anna’s stunned, and outraged that he would keep this secret from her. Sworn to secrecy, he explains, but he is gravely troubled over Ingrid’s intentions, so he chose to confide in Anna.

Anna is certain that Ingrid is up to no good at this point. She plans to tell Elsa everything. She and Belle decide to journey back to the city together, but unfortunately this trip is not as easy as the first. A fierce storm begins to blow as the two pick their way down a narrow mountain path. Anna’s convinced that it is the work of her aunt, trying to stop her from telling Elsa what she’s found out. A gust of wind knocks the girls apart, flinging Anna down a cliff and Belle’s crystal-of-memories on a ledge just out of her reach. Anna cries for help, and Belle shouts that she’s coming for her, but she doesn’t stop trying to reach her stone. The wind continues to wail, and the stone’s blown off the ledge and shatters. Belle is stricken, but rushes to help Anna, who slips from her grasp as soon as Belle reaches for her. Anna lays at the foot of the cliff. Aunt Ingrid descends on her. She overheard Anna confide her suspicions to Kristoff, so she’s been following Anna. Indeed, she did send the storm to stop Anna from telling Elsa of Grand Pabbie’s revelations. Ingrid opens Anna’s bag and finds the hat-box that contains The Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic Stealing Dream hat. Belle shouts from above for Ingrid to leave Anna alone, but Ingrid magicks the two of them away.

But to where? There will be time for that later. Now, back to the future! Storybrooke’s heavy hitters (Regina, Elsa, Emma, Hook, Henry, Mary Margaret, David, Rumpelstiltskin, and Belle) assemble at the sheriff station to examine the tape that Emma found at the end of the last episode. Their vigor to find

The Snow Queen got renewed, but they’ve been unsuccessful in finding her current digs. Her ice cream shop and Storybrooke house got stripped, of any useful evidence. But what kind of quaint New England ice cream parlor doesn’t have a truck? Henry, moody teenager but kid at heart, remembers that she had one. The group splits into search parties to find it. Belle, looking quite troubled, volunteers to go to the library instead, saying that there it may contain research that could help them. Elsa wants to check the library’s holdings on Arendelle, as well.

However, Storybrooke’s Arendelle section leaves much to be desired. Elsa again begins to despair—there’s no one in town who knows anything about her home, and no research she can find either. Perhaps, she thinks, it’s because Anna doesn’t want to be found. Belle reassures her that Anna must have loved her very much and would never want to hide from her. Elsa, as usual, seems unconvinced. Belle points her to another stack of books, and excuses herself. She left the kettle on at home, or something.

Ingrid may have erased Elsa and Emma’s memories, but Belle, it seems, wasn’t affected. She’s known of Anna all this time, and she’s convinced that her kidnapping by The Snow Queen was her fault. She’s overwhelmed with guilt, but she has a plan.

She’s rummaging through the pawn shop, gathering supplies to take on The Snow Queen. Gold finds her there, worried that she wasn’t at the library when he looked for here there. She begins a bit of a breathless explanation, but eventually she insists that she must find Anna. First, though, she has to find The Snow Queen. Gold presses her as to why, but she only replies that “heroes always help strangers.” Not exactly the truth there, Belle. She asks for her husband’s help, but he won’t hear of it (maybe because he and Queenie had a meeting in the woods earlier, while everyone was looking for the ice cream truck? Maybe. But there’s probably more to it than that.) For better or worse it’s in Rumpelstiltskin’s nature to want to protect the people he loves, and he refuses to be a part of Belle doing something so dangerous.

But Belle is desperate. She reaches into her bag and pulls out the dagger. The Dark One looks stricken, but is it because he’s shocked that she would use the dagger to do something against his will? Or is it because she’s holding a fake dagger and he’s going to have to fake being compelled by it?

The Golds arrive outside Ingrid’s ice-cave-lair. He can’t sense her magic, he explains, so she’s not home. He hopes this will persuade Belle to leave, but she bids him to keep watch while she goes inside to retrieve something. He’s quite agitated and demands to know what Belle thinks The Snow Queen could have that could find Anna? Belle tells him of the hat she knows that Ingrid took from Anna, and that she intends to find it so that she can force her to reveal Anna’s whereabouts.

Inside the cave, Belle hears Anna’s voice echoing through the ice. She tracks it across the room to the mirror, no longer cracked, covered in a white sheet. She pulls the sheet away, but she’s not met with her reflection. Not exactly. Instead, she faces a very not-nice part of herself. The reflection forces Belle to relieve the last time she saw Anna, making sure to drive home that Belle chose fumbling for a rock over saving her friend. This mirror is crueler than the one you face when trying on bathing suits. She taunts Belle about her marriage—The Dark One married her because she’s weak, and everyone knows it. And

Belle is so stupid, she continues, that she believes that her husband gave her the real dagger and not a fake.

She’s overwhelmed by the reflection’s abuse, so much that she barely notices when Gold comes in to tell her that he’s sensed The Snow Queen approaching. Belle is hysterical and lashes out with the dagger, cutting his cheek. He wrestles his arms around her and magicks them back to the shop.

There, Belle sees the blood running down her husband’s cheek and collapses in sobs. She tells him the mirror said that he didn’t love her, and that the dagger was fake. He reassures her that nothing the mirror said was true, that it is an object imbued with dark magic. (THIS IS NOT EXACTLY CLOSURE ON THE DAGGER SITUATION, ONCE UPON A TIME. YOU ARE KILLING ME.) She confesses to Rumpelstiltskin that she’s the reason why Anna is missing, and that she’s been keeping it from everyone until she can find a way to bring her back. She’s beside herself that she used the dagger against him and betrayed his trust. Rumpel holds her and whispers that he knew that she was only doing what she thought was right. Still crying, she asks for his forgiveness, which he immediately gives. I think he did, anyway. I couldn’t exactly hear because I was crying too hard.

Earlier in the day, Emma, Hook, Regina, and Robin came across the ice cream truck, which was shockingly easy to find. Maybe because Ingrid was hiding behind a tree as they approached it, making sure they’d find it? Inside, they files and files of Emma’s childhood. There’s newspaper clippings and foster care records, but there’s also art projects and report cards—things that a parent would keep as their child grows up. Emma and Hook begin to thoroughly examine the records. Regina begins to back away, but Robin follows her. “Sorry I told you I was in love with you after I asked you to save my wife’s life!” he blurts out. Yeah, smooth, Robin.

It might not matter what he says, though. Regina’s been through her entire vault, she tells him, and even sought The Snow Queen to save Marian, but she hasn’t been able to. The only way she can think of to save Marian is for Robin to fall in love with her again. Ouch.

With the truck found and files packed up, the group heads back to the sheriff station to further explore the records. Regina takes her leave, of course. She had enough of “Emma and Captain Guyliner making eyes at each other” earlier in the day. When you’ve just told your boyfriend that he needs to find a way to love his wife again, you really don’t want to witness a lot dashing romance and PDA.

Later, Elsa rushes in to join Emma and Hook. She found a book of Arendelle heraldry in the library (convenient!). She’s discovered that The Snow Queen is her Aunt Ingrid, and that there was another sister, Helga, as well. And, since she’s handy with runes, she can translate the runic scroll that happened to be stashed in with Emma’s old fingerpaintings. It’s a prophecy that states that Emma, the savior, will become The Snow Queen’s sister, and that the family will  reunite again. Elsa is the spitting image of her mother, and, from the tiny painting in the heraldry book, it appears that Emma looks just like Helga. Safe to say that Ingrid’s intentions for Elsa and Emma just got clearer.

But we’re not done yet! Belle walks in, apparently recovered from her earlier tango with dark magic, but unable to keep her secret any longer. She tells Elsa that she met Anna in Arendelle, and that she’s the

reason that Anna is missing (which isn’t really true, because The Snow Queen still kidnapped her, but princess guilt is hard to assuage, I suppose.) The group shares what they’ve recently learned about Ingrid and the prophecy. Belle conveys what Rumpelstiltskin told her about the dark magic of the mirror, and moreover reveals that the mirror is part of a curse that, if cast, will cause Storybrooke to tear itself apart, leaving only Ingrid, Elsa, and Emma. Forever.

But Rumpelstiltskin takes matters into his own hands. He marches into Ingrid’s lair, offering her a deal. She has no use for anything he has, she scoffs. He won’t let her hurt anyone that he loves, he warns. She’s less than impressed—his newly found sentiment isn’t enough to stop her from getting what she’s always wanted. But The Dark One has the hat that she tried to steal from Anna so many years ago, and he’s not afraid to use it. Ingrid appears genuinely surprised and intimidated. He urges her to reconsider.

In the Enchanted Forest, Belle returns to her castle. Her father is waiting for her, angry that she left but seemingly happy that she’s home safe. Belle admits that she failed to recover her memories, and Maurice confesses that he’s known all along that her mother died to save her from the ogre attack. Belle’s devastated by her mother’s sacrifice, but also determined that she should not die in vain. She became intrigued by Anna’s explanation of the powerful wizard she met and wants to use him to stop the war. Again, Maurice protests, but Belle’s inspired by her mother’s bravery and wracked with guilt that she let Anna down. She’ll do anything to save her people from the war. Anything.

Once more, in Arendelle, Ingrid has Anna locked in a cell, and it’s clear that the woman has zero marbles left. She wants a family who loves her for what she is, she explains, but she’s certain that Anna meant to use the hat against Elsa to “cure” her of her powers. Ingrid wants the family she knew—herself, and her two sisters. She wanted Anna and Elsa to become like sisters, but since Anna doesn’t have magic, that will never work. Anna’s the odd one out. She’s got to go.

But go where?

We’ve had our RumBelle episode, except it was more about the two characters separately than their relationship or marriage, and all the answers we got tonight only managed to open up more questions.

I’d feel like the show’s teasing me, if I didn’t love it so much.

The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

In Storybrooke’s Sheriff station, Emma and Elsa continue to search through town records looking for signs of The Snow Queen. Elsa isn’t happy with their progress, but Emma insists that this is their best option. Will Scarlett is still being held in the tank, for “as long as [Emma] says so.” Hook shows up to drop off more records, and the two scoundrels share a scoundrel-like conversation. Shortly after Hook leaves, Elsa comes across a file of photographs. They’re the photos that Regina had Sidney Glass take when Emma first arrived in Storybrooke. Kind of an abuse of power on Regina’s part, but it turns out they’re useful for more than just nostalgia. Elsa finds a picture of Emma very obviously arguing with The Snow Queen. Emma, troubled that she cannot remember the conversation, takes Elsa to see Regina in her vault. If she can’t remember the conversation, maybe Regina knows something.

Emma asks Elsa to come in to speak to Regina, but Elsa declines. She wants Emma to reconcile with Regina. Emma isn’t hopeful that she’ll be able to do that. Ruefully, she tells Elsa that once you’ve screwed someone over as badly as she screwed Regina by bringing Marian back, it’s hard to be friends again. Elsa encourages Emma to speak to Regina alone, so that the two can try to talk.

In the vault, Emma approaches Regina, who is waiting for Sidney to return in the magic mirror to tell her of The Snow Queen’s whereabouts. Regina, your redemption efforts are admirable but keeping Sidney Glass as your Magic Mirror isn’t going to win you many bonus points with Henry or the citizens of Storybrooke, no matter how many boyfriend’s wives you unfreeze. She knows this, of course, which is why she denies knowing anything about Sidney when Emma confronts her about the pictures she found. Regina denies any knowledge of the photographs (which you may mistrust, but if Regina knew that there was a connection between The Snow Queen she surely would have exploited it by now since Regina wants to force her to unfreeze Marian.) Emma tries to reach out to Regina, but Regina sends her away. “You’ve never had my back,” she spits, “and you never will.”

Emma leaves, and Sidney reappears in the mirror. He’s found The Snow Queen’s lair, but he wants Regina to release him from the mirror before he tells her. Regina threatens to release him from the mirror and throw him in the hospital again, and he recants his leverage over her. Regina, I know you’re going through a really tough time right now but the man has already taken a murder rap for you, twice. Maybe just play it cool this time?

Outside the vault, Elsa waits for Emma to return. It has grown dark outside and, fairytale people, you should know better by now! Don’t let strangers with missing relatives hang out in a misty graveyard after dark! Of course Elsa hears Anna’s voice crying for her help, and of course she takes off after her. Emma returns to find Elsa missing and chases after her. (Remember when David made the “here’s to not having to look for a while” joke? Doesn’t seem like you’re getting that wish, dude.)

Elsa chases Anna through the woods, across a gorge and a stream (thank goodness for ice magic that will let you build staircases willy-nilly), and eventually catches up with her. Her sister doesn’t seem to be that happy to see her. Probably because it’s not really Anna, but an apparition generated by The Snow Queen to lure Elsa into the middle of the woods and trap her in chains of ice that grow stronger as she panics. The Snow Queen regards Elsa with the patronizing pity of someone who knows way more than the person they’re speaking to. She needs Elsa out-of-the-way at the moment, and she knows that

chaining her with her own terror will be perfect to hold her at bay. She’s going to build a snowman! (Remember the snow monster Elsa generated with her powers earlier this season? You know, the one who got stronger when it felt threatened? Seems like this kind of magic has a pattern…)

Regina’s in the woods as well, taking directions from Sidney-Glass-in-a-compact to get to The Snow Queen. She doesn’t make it far before she runs into Emma, who is of course looking for Elsa. (The fact that their paths intersect here shouldn’t go unnoticed, either.) Regina reveals that she’s looking for The Snow Queen, and Emma insists that the two stick together. Regina isn’t pleased, but she’s even angrier that Emma will insist on coming with her anyway.

As the two walk through the forest (using the directions Sidney gave Regina before Emma appeared and Sidney got snapped shut and thrown in the pocket of Regina’s super-sharp blazer), Emma tries to make small talk with Regina, but Regina is having none of it. She doesn’t care if Emma thinks that her work to unfreeze Marian is admirable. She doesn’t want to be girlfriends and braid each other’s hair and give each other makeovers. There’s no hiding her fury at Emma for bringing Marian back. Regina suggests that Emma just learn to live with the fact that she’s ruined her life, just like Regina lives with the lives she’s ruined.

They reach the bridge that Elsa made to follow Anna, which is curiously close to where Sidney has said that The Snow Queen’s lair will be. As they’re climbing, the wind begins to howl. The two pause and seek cover. Emma denies that the magic at work is Elsa’s, and Regina realizes that Sidney has betrayed her. Even though she told Emma earlier that she has no idea where he is, she pulls out her compact to scream at him in outrage. He reveals that he has lured the two into The Snow Queen’s trap, and a present in store for Regina that he feels that she richly deserves.

The two make it through the wind-attack and subsequent bridge collapse, only to find The Snow Queen’s “snowman” at the top of the hill. Regina throws a fireball. Emma follows up with a burst of light magic (what are we calling it? It kind of looks like Jubilee’s powers from X-Men, yes?) and the ice warrior stumbles backward, but he quickly regenerates and attacks again. The two sorceresses continue to assault their foe with individual blasts of magic, but they’re not making as much progress as they could.

They have to cross the streams.

The combination is enough to turn the Ice Boss into a puddle, but the two barely have time to catch their breath before The Snow Queen herself ambushes them, choking them with her magic and stealing the compact that Regina is holding Sidney in. Elsa was being held in her chains not far away, which she managed to break by Not! Being! Afraid! (hey, it’s a fairytale, it’s allowed to be that easy sometimes), and blasts The Snow Queen to release Emma and Regina. The Snow Queen is surprisingly happy to see Elsa was able to break free and completely disinterested in anything the three women are going to do from then on, since all she showed interest in was Regina’s compact. With an irritatingly smug blast of snow, she vanishes.

And, it’s funny. Just the other night I was complaining to a friend that the show is sort of “beating the Frozen drum a little hard”, and that I missed the “our world” storylines that the first two seasons had.

Are the writers of OUAT bugging my life? This week, we didn’t flash back to The Enchanted Forest, but to a runaway-from-foster-care Emma shoplifting some pop tarts. A sly looking, dark-haired teenage girl comes to her rescue when Emma is confronted by a security guard. With a quick smile and a quicker lie, her new friend hustles her away from the guard and to the checkout line, where she pays with a stolen credit card. Emma’s astonished and a little in awe of her new friend’s (who introduces herself as Lilly)guile and quick-thinking, even as the two run from someone in a Jeep who chases them from the parking lot.

Once the two get far enough away, they unpack their groceries and picnic in the grass across from some very nice-looking lake houses. Emma explains her background—foster kid who ran away because she knew she’d never be adopted. She asks Lilly if she’s been in the system as well, and Lilly explains that she might as well be invisible where she lives and so she decided to leave. She reveals her plan to break into one of the lake houses and stay there, since they’re not currently being used. She invites Emma to come with her, and she gleefully accepts.

But all the girlie laughter, video game playing, bonding over Lilly’s star-shaped birthmark, and promising to be friends forever can’t help the girls when the house’s broken into late one night. Well, I say broken into, but really it’s Lilly’s father, who has tracked her down. Her mother, he explains, far too overcome by heartbreak to travel

Emma is stricken by this news—she thought that Lilly didn’t have a family. She’s outraged and betrayed by Lilly’s re-arrangement of the truth. Lilly’s father calls the police and Emma’s taken back into foster care. Lilly begs Emma to take her contact information so that they can remain friends, but Emma refuses.

And now we know why Emma is certain that Regina is never going to forgive her—because she never forgave Lilly.

Tonight’s secondary-Storybrooke plot wasn’t magic-intense, either. David is trying to convince Mary Margaret to leave baby Neal for an hour and go on a walk with him. She’s incredibly apprehensive, and after everything that happened after Emma was born, it’s hard to blame her. David is dutiful and reassuring, but insists on getting her out of the house.

The two go to the sheriff station because Mary Margaret insists on having a long-range radio in case the cellular service goes out. They retrieve the radio, but then David realizes that Will Scarlett isn’t hanging out in the drunk tank anymore. But isn’t it a perfect opportunity for Snow White and Prince Charming to go on an adventure together? Seeking out the escaped ne’er-do-well and returning him to justice! And there isn’t an Evil Queen or an impish curse chasing them! It’s hard to resist your True Love’s sense of adventure. Mary Margaret agrees to give chase.

As night falls, the Charmings’ hunt has not yielded quarry. Mary Margaret insists that she go back to Neal and that David continue his search. They part ways, but Mary Margaret soon spies a man frantically digging along the shoreline on her way home.

Of course it’s Will Scarlett. Mary Margaret marvels at how easily she’s found the escapee, but after few more answers from an obviously inebriated and not-cunning Scarlett, she realizes that there’s no way that this drunk idiot escaped on his own. David must have let him out so that the two could chase him! Date Night in Storybrooke, folks. Mary Margaret demands that Will admit the plan, and offers to use her powers as mayor to pardon him if he does. Hard to say no to that, isn’t it?

Except…

Later, Mary Margaret back at home, holding Neal on her bad and relishing her brief adventure. David comes in, relieved that she looks happy. She beams at him and thanks him for his ruse to make her feel better. She admits that parenthood has been different and more difficult than she imagined, and that it was nice to feel like herself again. David laughs. It seems that he wasn’t responsible for Scarlett’s release, and that Mary Margaret gave him a pardon for, well, nothing. But, since he was really only locked up for getting drunk and passing out in the library, he’s not to be considered a dangerous criminal anyway. Let’s hope letting one get away doesn’t turn out to haunt anyone, okay?

Well, don’t worry about the bad guys who get away, at any rate. Maybe stick around and try to hang on to your friends. Emma again pursues Regina to her vault, insisting that she wants things to work out. After all this time, she realizes she should have forgiven Lilly. She doesn’t want Regina to make the same mistake. The women have a son in common and moreover, Regina understands what it’s like to feel alone, rejected, unloved, and lost in a way that her parents and even Henry never can. Maybe they can have a beautiful friendship, after all.

The Snow Queen isn’t worried about making new friends, however. In her lair, she releases Glass, who stands ready to do her bidding. It seems that he’s made a mistake, falling for an evil queen again. She doesn’t want him, she explains. She wanted the compact that Regina housed him in. There was enough dark magic within it for her to use it for her wicked intentions. She dismisses Glass and grins wickedly at the compact. She shatters the surface of the mirror, then uses a shard to repair a broken mirror she just happens to have lying around. The mirror, she explains to her dazed-and-evil reflection, will help her get everything she wants—a family who loves her.

We leave tonight’s installment with a bit of CaptainSwan. Hook meets Emma at her office, where she is going through her small box of childhood belongings. She smiles at some of the artifacts of her childhood; I burst into tears when she pulls out a picture of herself and Neal (Henry’s dad, not her brother), and it just so happens that she also finds the video camera that she used to tape some of Lilly’s and her antics at the lake house. She plugs it in, eager to see her old friend’s face.

The tape continues after the girls fade away. Hook and Emma watch as a pudgy, irritating ginger kid appears onscreen, obnoxiously shouting about “what the new kid brought.” Emma is in the background, struggling to get the camera back. Offscreen, we hear what we assume is the foster-mother of the house tell the ginger to drop the camera. She sounds irritated, barges into the room, and wrenches the camera away from the kid. As she turns it off, it catches her face perfectly.

Of course it’s The Snow Queen. Of course it is.

This show sure knows how to leave you hanging, doesn’t it?

The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

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.

Meanwhile…

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.