"A Bitter Draught" is the 113th episode of Once Upon a Time.
When a mysterious man from the Land of Untold Stories arrives in Storybrooke, Snow and David work together alongside Regina, with whom this man shares a past, to neutralize the threat. Meanwhile, Belle seeks Hook's help in finding a safe place to hide away from her husband, and the Evil Queen continues to try and win Zelena over to her side. Emma, at the same time, resumes her therapy sessions with Archie and shares her terrifying vision of the future.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Emma begins getting hand tremors. In a vision, she is killed in a battle with an unknown villain. The oracle confirms that this is the end of her story and she will die. ("The Savior") Snow injects Regina with Hyde's serum, separating Regina's good and bad halves. Regina crushes the heart of her evil half, who is manifested as the Evil Queen. ("An Untold Story") Regina says she wants to start a new story that will have a better ending than her last. ("The Savior") Zelena scolds Regina for ripping out the part of her that was most like her. ("The Savior") Regina's evil half, who is very much alive, visits Zelena for chat. ("The Savior")
The Evil Queen steals some magic with one witness.
"I agreed to a drink, not a private graveyard tour. Where are we going?" Zelena moans as she walks through the Storybrooke Cemetery with the evil half of her sister. The queen tells her she'll see, and they soon approach Regina's Vault. Zelena refuses to let the Evil Queen in, but the queen points out if Regina didn't want her going inside and taking ingredients then she wouldn't have sealed it with blood magic. They both enter and make their way downstairs, so Zelena asks the Evil Queen how she knows she won't tell Regina about this, "Because you already would have" she responds with a chuckle. As the queen collects a box, Zelena questions why she needs it all, so the queen explains that she already used everything the Dragon had in his shop to get to the town. Zelena asks what happened to him, so Regina vaguely responds that he should've known better than to get in her way, "Sound advice for us all" Zelena dryly comments. Sensing Zelena is uncomfortable, the queen asks if she's worried she'll harm her "better half", but the wicked witch tells her it remains to be seen which half is better. The queen tells her "sister" to relax, claiming she's just going to use the box she's holding to teach Regina a lesson; that she can never escape who she really is. Zelena questions what she'll get out of this, so the Evil Queen promises her a sister that will appreciate all of her "delightfully malevolent" qualities, "A sister like you". The Evil Queen then vanishes in a cloud of purple smoke, leaving behind a conflicted Zelena to ponder.
ONCE UPON A TIME
"Okay, mom. Are you ready for this?" Henry, who is carrying his magical storybook, asks Regina as they approach Granny's Diner. She nervously sighs, but tells him she is, "Everyone listened to me before...because I was the Evil Queen. Now I'm going to show them that I'm just as strong without her". The boy hands his storybook over to his mother, reminding her that they're calling it Operation Cobra: Part Two. Regina wonders why it's part two, so he points out that this time she's the hero. He comfortingly places his hand on her shoulder and then they both share a smile before entering the diner.
Regina gives an inspiring speech.
Inside the diner, a large group of the newcomers from the Land of Untold Stories are gathered as Snow and David see to them. David announces that the room keys are on the counter, fresh clothes are by the jukebox and lunches are by the front door. With that, Regina and Henry walk through the front door. They're greeted by Hook, who says it's about time because the rabble are getting restless. Regina makes her way to the bar counter and clears her throat before slamming the storybook down, getting everyone's attention. Introducing herself as the mayor, she officially welcomes everyone to Storybrooke. She states that everyone fled to the Land of Untold Stories because they were afraid that whatever was in the storybook would play out, and now they're here, she's sure that they're scared it will. She tells then they don't realize she is just like them as she's also getting a fresh start, and she doesn't know what the future holds, "But I do know one thing. We don't have to be afraid of anything, because whatever comes next, we're going to face it - together. The crowd begin to applaud this speech, and with that, Belle enters the diner, attempting to ask a question. A shocked Emma notices her, "You're here, and you're awake..." she gasps.
A mysterious man arrives at the diner.
The recently awoken beauty points out that she also needs a place to stay, so Hook asks about "The Crocodile". Belle merely states that they're not together at the moment before asking if Granny has a free room. Emma says she wouldn't wish those mattresses on her worst enemy so they'll find her something better. Hook interrupts, claiming to know just the place. He hints for Emma to leave with him to take Belle to her new home, but she reveals she has an appointment with Archie. Impressed, he asks if she's still going to see the cricket, so she wonders if he thought she'd back out. He points out that being vulnerable isn't her strong suit...and she agrees, stating they've been through a lot so it can't hurt to talk about it. Hook tells his love that he's glad she's not keeping her problems to herself before excusing himself to take Belle to her new accommodation. As they exit the diner, a man in rags enters. He nervously looks around, catching the attention of Henry. The young boy stops him, asking who he is, "Beg your pardon?" the man asks, confused. Henry asks for his name, explaining that if he can find his story then they could maybe figure out how to pick up where he left off. The man claims he won't be found in the book because his story isn't important enough to tell. "Don't say that, let me just see if I can find you" Henry says, turning to the book and scrolling through it quickly. With the boys attention diverted, the man mysteriously vanishes, leaving behind a letter stamped with the merged letters "C" and "M".
The Count of Monte Cristo wants his revenge.
In a flashback, we're taken to 19th Century France, where a woman holds out an invite for a party she's attending. Numerous guests enjoy the party as classical music is played, but they all go silent at the ring of a tiny bell. A butler speaks out and introduces the guests to their host for the evening; the Count of Monte Cristo. Two doors open and in walks the Count, who is the same man as the one who visited Henry in the diner, who welcomes his guests to a "memorable evening". A Baron tells the Count they should be thanking him since he's throwing it, but the Count claims this to be nonsense, stating this evening wouldn't be possible if not for the Baron. "To the baron" the Count toasts, followed by everyone else. Confused, the Baron wonders to what he owes the honor. The Count chuckles and asks the Baron if he doesn't recognize him, "What is it? Clothes? The gold? Perhaps the scar above my eye?" he asks. The Baron suddenly recognizes the Count as Edmond Dantès, to which he's sarcastically congratulated for. The Baron is in disbelief, claiming Edmond to be in prison and he put him their himself. "Indeed you did. Right after you burnt down his home, squandered his family fortune and murdered his fiancée. But he escape that dungeon. Rebuilt his fortune piece by piece. It may have taken more than a decade, but he became the man you see before you, and all for one reason" Edmond says, circling the Baron. When he comes to a halt, he draws his sword, swipes at the Baron's holster, causing his weapon to drop, and he grabs his foe by the neck.
The Evil Queen offers a deal.
As Edmond points the sword at the Baron's face, he demands to know who helped destroy his life, for he's not clever to have done it on his own. The Baron coldly tells Edmond to kill him, but points out this masquerade won't bring him justice. "Oh, I'm after something much more satisfying..." Edmond whispers before thrusting his sword into the Baron, "...Revenge" he finishes. As the people around begin to panic and flee, Edmond pulls out his sword and drops the deceased Baron to the floor. With everyone gone, Edmond takes a satisfying sigh, but is soon interrupted by the sound of clapping, "Ah, nothing quite like the first kill" an amused Evil Queen laughs out. Edmond asks who she is, but she simply responds that she's a fan of his work before asking if he really spent a decade setting this up. Edmond claims with the vengeance in his heart it went by in the blink of an eye, impressing the Queen, who says it's hard to find commitment like that. "Pity the baron didn't name names. Hmmm. I can't imagine how long it will take you to find the next victim deserving of your revenge" Regina smiles. Edmond says he's prepared to spend the rest of his life avenging his love, but Regina supposes he won't have to before pulling out a life of names of every person who wrong him and his fiancée. Noting that she doesn't seem like the benevolent sort, he asks what she wants in return. "Just a little help getting some..." she start, flicking out her fan, "r-r-revenge of my own".
The Charmings find out they're targets.
Back in the present, in Storybrooke, outside Granny's Diner, Henry is with Snow and David, showing them the envelope that the mysterious man from earlier left behind, as it is addressed to both of them. David asks if the man just left it on the counter, "And then he vanished" Henry confirms, handing the note over. As the letter is opened, Henry supposes that he's the Invisible Man or Dracula, before dissuading the latter as it's daylight. "Wrong Count" Snow corrects, "Monte Cristo?" she asks, puzzled. Overhearing the conversation, Granny interrupts and claims it's not on the menu because she was never a fan of the eggy bread. Charming corrects the old lady, saying it's a place and its Count has quite a reputation, "Why would he want to meet with us?" he wonders before Regina turns up. She reveals the Count wants them dead because he wants his revenge and that's the only way he can get it. A confused Snow claims it doesn't make sense because they haven't met him, "Why would he want to kill us?". "Because I hired him to do it" Regina confesses with a look of guilt.
Emma gets some therapy.
Emma is sat silently and uncomfortably in Archie's office as the tick of a clock fills the room. The therapist assures her she's in a safe place and she can trust him, so she confides that her tremors come with a vision, one vision. Archie wonders what she sees in this vision, so she nervously explains that it shows Henry, her family and Hook on main street and she's in a battle. Archie asks who she's fighting, but she tells him she doesn't know, but they're strong. She explains that she almost starts to win, but when her hand starts shaking she dies, "That's the first time I've said that out loud" Emma whispers, in shock. The therapist takes a deep breath and tells her the more she talks about it, the less it will haunt her. She wonders if she should tell her family, but Archie asks why she hasn't done so already, "Because I know exactly what they would do. They would tell me to stop doing what I'm doing until they could save the day" she responds. Archie asks why it'd be wrong for them to protect her, so she tells him she's the Savior. "And the Savior can't take a day off?" he rebuts, leading her to ask who she is if she cannot help people. Archie claims he doesn't know, telling her that's a question she must ask herself. Emma claims she's not here for an identity crisis, she just wants to know how to win her fight and protect the people she loves. Archie points out that she's here for him to help her deal with whatever is troubling her, and if that is an identity crisis - Emma interrupts the therapist before he can finish his sentence and gets up from her seat, claiming this to have been a mistake. Archie attempts to stop his patient from leaving, but she soon rushes out of the room.
Regina promises to fix her mistakes.
Meanwhile, over at Granny's Bed & Breakfast, David enters the door of the room the Count of Monte Cristo is staying in and he enters once he sees its all clear; Snow and Regina soon follow. Snow finds some envelopes resembling the one they received, marked with a "C" and "M", confirming that he was in fact here. Charming discovers a chest full of weapons and sarcastically jokes that calligraphy doesn't seem to be the Count's only hobby before asking Regina why she didn't inform them about the Count. She claims to not have known he was in Storybrooke and then asking if they really want to know all the times she's tried to kill them, "Yes!" David responds, thinking this was pretty obvious. Regina apologizes again, telling David he knows she's trying to put everything behind her, but clearly the Count didn't get the memo. Snow suggests that since she hired him, she should fire him, and Regina claims she will do, "The invitation says to meet him at the dirigible in an hour". David insists that he and his wife will come too, but Regina refuses, stating this is her mess that she must fix, "And really, it should go more smoothly if he's not trying to use you as a pin cushion". Snow scoffs if they should even be worried about the Count since it's taken him over two curses and a pit stop in the Land of Untold Stories to find them. Regina becomes uncomfortable and reveals that this isn't completely true: the Charmings are shocked.
The Charmings invite Edmond to stay at their castle.
In the fairytale land of the past, Snow White and Prince Charming ride fast through the woods on horseback as they're followed by their associates, including Grumpy. They come to a halt and dismount when they reach a village, but they're horrified to see the village has been destroyed, "We're too late" Snow sighs. Grumpy asks to be reminded why they spared the Evil Queen's life, to which Snow states they thought it could change her. The dwarf points out that it did change her, because instead of ransacking villages Regina is now razing them to the ground. A man is suddenly heard coughing and Charming notices a hooded man sat against a house, seemingly injured. The royal couple rush to his aid and Snow gives him some water. When he removes his hood to drink, it is revealed to be Edmond Dantès, the Count of Monte Cristo. Charming asks the man his name, so he reveals it to be Edmond, but then lies that he was a vintner in the village. He explains that when the queen arrived everyone fled, but he stayed to put out the fires. David calls out for a woman named Charlotte, and as she approaches them, Snow explains to Edmond that she's their handmaiden, and thanks to their endless war, she's become a skilled nurse. Charlotte examines Edmond's burned hands and assures him they're not too bad and a little salve will have him back to new soon enough. As the handmaiden patches him up, Edmond just stares at her face, memorized by her beauty. Noticing him staring, she asks if something is wrong, but he simply comments "Your eyes...". Confused, she asks what of them, but he grows uncomfortable and attempts to stand, thanking her for her aid. He tells the royal couple they must find the queen and make her pay, but Snow claims that will make them no better than her and the best way to get revenge is to show the queen that no matter what she does, they can always find happiness. Edmond angrily points out that she destroyed his village, his vines, everything he has, so Snow suggests he could find happiness in their castle. David asks Edmond to be their wine steward, pleasing the Count, who responds that there's nothing he'd like more.
Edmond refuses to back down.
Back in the present, Regina is stood near the crashed dirigible reading the Count of Monte Cristo's letter to Snow and David while she waits for him to arrive. Eventually he does and he tells Regina she's not on the guest list. The former evil queen tells the Count she's calling off their deal, to which he responds by drawing his sword and asking if they finally convinced her that finding happiness is the best revenge. She reveals that they did indeed do that, even though it took a while. Edmond claims this doesn't change anything, Regina offers to help him, stating one doesn't need revenge to get over what happened to the person they loved, "If I can learn that, anyone can". Edmond tells Regina that even though she sent him down this path, she cannot take him off it now. With that, he throws his sword at her, but she manages to freeze it in the air with magic. She picks it up to defend herself, but when she turns her attention back to Edmond, he's vanished. Regina is left frustrated that her attempt failed.
Another attempt to leave town is thwarted.
A short while later, Emma is sat in a sheriff's car with Snow and David whilst on the phone with Regina, "On it" she bluntly says before hanging up and starting the engine. Snow wonders what happened, so Emma reveals that Regina failed to get the Count to back down. She begins driving down a long road through the woods, causing her mother to question where she's taking them: Emma says she told Regina she'd take them somewhere safe. With that, the town line becomes visible, and Snow insists they're not leaving town and running from their wine steward. Emma ignores her mother and continues driving straight for the exit, however, just as she drives over the line, a magical barrier stops the car from leaving. The car is sent flying backwards and it lands in a ditch on the side of the road. As the car's horn wails out, David asks what the hell that was. Emma realizes the Count is behind this and doesn't want them running either.
Hook finally apologises to Belle for trying to kill her.
"What? This is where you want me to stay? The Jolly Roger?" Belle asks, confused, as she steps on-board the infamous ship with Hook. She says she can't stay here, starting to explain what would happen if Rumple were to find him harboring her before the pirate smugly adds that the Dark One's wrath would be an added bonus. Puzzled, she asks why he'd risk her life for her. Hook's smug look vanishes and a look of regret replaces it, "Long ago, I... I tried to kill you in the Regina's castle once. I failed" he confesses, continuing by adding that along the way he did something he can live with no longer...he laid a hand on her. He also recalls the fact that he shot her at the town line, but an uncomfortable Belle tells him he's changed since all that. "Maybe" he says, confusing Belle, I have a long road to travel before I can be someone I can be proud of" he continues. He tells the beauty that despite the forgiveness of others, he must forgive himself, and he is not there yet. Belle decides to accept the Jolly Roger as a place to stay, pointing out that Hook isn't the only one trying to make up for past mistakes. She explains that she's spent way too long trying to make things work with Rumple just because she wanted them to, but now must do what is best for her son.
Zelena is accused of a crime that she kinda committed.
Meanwhile, at the edge of town, Emma, Snow and David, have exited the crashed police car and Regina has arrived to investigate what happened. Emma tells Regina that she doesn't think the Count crashed the car before pushing her hand against the air above the town line, revealing a magical barrier. She points out to Regina that it's like the one she used to keep everyone here during the curse, but as Regina inspects it further, she deciphers that it isn't like it, but the same spell. The former queen explains that the only way to enact the same spell is with ingredients from her vault, which she sealed with blood magic. With that, Zelena arrives in a puff of magic and she calls out for her sister, asking if everyone is okay, "You know, I never understand why you parade around in these deathtraps rather than just magicking yourself around town. What happened?" she scoffs. Regina explains that someone put a protection spell on the town line, leading Zelena to act surprised, asking who would do that, when in fact she knows full well who it was. Regina tells her sister she was going to ask her the same question, offending her, "You're accusing me of causing this?" she snarls. Regina points out that other than herself, she's the only one who has access to her vault, "That's not true!" Zelena snaps. Regina questions who it was, since she's claiming it's not her, but not wanting to betray her other "sister", Zelena decides to leave, disappearing in a puff of green smoke. Regina turns back to Snow and Emma and states that she's starting to think the Count isn't the only one they have to be worrying about.
Regina gives the Count his weapon.
In the fairytale land of the past, Regina is in the main room of her Dark Palace sword fighting with one of her guards. The fight seems equally balanced at first and the guard even does some spins to show of his skills, but eventually, the queen gets the better of him and impales him with the sword. She laughs. "You impress me, your majesty" Edmond Dantès says, standing in the doorway, "Well, what can I say? You inspired me" she smiles, finally pulling the sword out of her victim, allowing him to drop dead to the floor. She wipes her fingers along the blood stained sword and sniffs them, getting a sick enjoyment from it, "Perhaps you can give me a lesson. Or two". The count claims that as much as he'd like that, he cannot be late for his first meal with Snow White and her prince. Regina is pleased to learn that the royal couple believed him, adding that she knew their "insufferable kindness" would be their downfall. She approaches her desk and retrieves a small black vial, explaining to Edmond that it is venom of the agrabahn viper, "A bitter draught...slow and painful". She extends her hand to give it to the Count, but a look of confliction comes across his face. She wonders if there's a problem, so he asks what the royal couple did to deserve this, pointing out that they've shown him nothing but kindness. Regina sighs with frustration, "Don't tell me you're starting to grow a conscience" she whines, but he tells her to call it "professional curiosity". She tells the Count that what they did shouldn't matter and only one thing should be on his mind right now - how badly he wants his revenge. With that, she pulls out the list of names he so deeply desires. Instantly convinced, he grabs the vial containing the venom and makes his leave.
Once the Count of Monte Cristo is gone, Regina heads to her mirror and begins patting the sweat off of her neck with a delicate cloth. "Well this is very disappointing" Rumple's signature voice suddenly bellows out from behind the queen, startling her, "I mean, I didn't spend years training you so you could spend your days fencing and get someone else to do your dirty work". An incensed Regina tells Rumple that he knows exactly why she's doing this, because he put a spell on Snow and Charming that prevents her from hurting them. He acknowledges that this is true, but then reminds her of the curse he gave that would allow her to take them somewhere else and hurt them. She claims that she doesn't care, stating she'll get what she wants and get it without him. The Dark One approaches the Evil Queen, staring at her bosoms, and asks if she's sure about that. She tells him if he thinks he can stop the Count, he can think again, so Rumple asks if this is a threat as he begins to sniff her neck. She tells him it's a fact, because she put the same protection spell on the Charmings on the Count, to protect him from Rumple. The two chuckle and then Regina gloats that the student has finally outgrown the teacher. The two then step away from each other, making playful noises and hand movements, and Rumple tells her they'll see about that. He vanishes in a puff of smoke, leaving a chuckling Regina behind.
The Evil Queen's type...
Back in the present, Rumplestiltskin enters his shop and slowly walks around, sensing something is off. He notices a glass cabinet is open, so begins to examine it...suddenly he knows what is happening. "When I heard what Regina did I thought 'No this is too good to be true'." he says, closing the cabinet. The Evil Queen, Regina's counterpart with all her dark, malevolent personality traits, appears behind the Dark One and she tells him not to lie, "You're happy I'm back". He chuckles and tells her that "happy" isn't the word he'd use, "Now where is it?" he asks, referring to the item she clearly stole. The Evil Queen clicks her tongue and sighs, showing him a small metal coin. He magically takes it back, bringing it to his own hand, and asks if she really thought she could steal from him. She playfully scoffs that it's just a piece of tin, but Rumple adds that it's also so much more. The Evil Queen asks if he wants a deal, so the Dark One explains that if she wants this bauble then his terms are quite simple - whatever her plans for the town are, Belle and his unborn son must be exempt. The queen sighs, so Rumple asks if she wants the coin or not. Frustrated, she agrees, promising not to hurt them. She grabs the coin from his hand, however, grabs his fingers too. She begins to run them down her neck and chest, seductively asking if he's sure that's all he wants in return. Disinterested, he asks what else she had in mind, so as she begins to play around with his suit, she points out that the tales in the Land of Untold Stories aren't the only ones that never played out... She flirtatiously grabs his tie, but he assertively grabs her hand, asking why she thinks he has any interest in seeing how "this one" goes. "Eventually you'll get tired of waiting for that bookworm to accept you for who you are. And when you do..." she says, leaning her face right next to his, "...mm...that's when the real fun can begin". With a sinister smile, she makes her exit. Slowly gripping on to his tie as she heads to the door, eventually she loses her grip and Rumple straightens himself up as the Evil Queen leaves.
Edmond decides not to go through with the poisoning.
In the fairytale land of the past, in the Charming's Royal Castle, Edmond Dantès opens up a jug of wine that is laid out on a table ready for a feast and he sneakily drops the small vial of Agrabah Viper venom he was given inside. He takes it over to Snow and Charming, who are sat at a long table, but as he's about to pour it for the couple, Charming tells him to wait. Edmond wonders if something's wrong, but Charming explains they just need one more glass. He signals over to another servant, who then brings another, just as Charlotte comes rushing down the stairs, apologizing for being late. Seeing Charlotte sends a chill down the Count's spine, for now she will be drinking the same wine as the royal couple. Snow reveals that tonight they'll be saying farewell to Charlotte because she'll be leaving them tomorrow. As Charlotte approaches the table, she explains that her mother has fallen ill, so she'll be helping her family take care of her, "Well, this family will miss you when you're gone" Snow tells her. Once everyone is sat, Charming tells Edmond to pour the wine, "Tonight, we toast to old friends. He pours the royal couples drinks first, but when he gets to Charlotte's he freezes. Charlotte wonders what's wrong, "It's your eyes again" he whispers, in awe. As Snow and Charming share a glance, the blonde awkwardly tells Edmond that's very kind. Not wanting to be seen as suspicious, he finally pours Charlotte her glass of wine. He then thanks her and leaves the table. The trio make a toast and Snow prays that Charlotte only find happy days ahead. However, when the clink glasses and prepare to drink, Edmond shouts out "Wait!", stopping everyone. The confused couple ask what's wrong, so the Count nervously lies that an occasion like this calls for a bottle to match and he has just the one in the cellar. He takes Charlotte's glass before leaving, and the other servant take's Snow's and Charming's.
Charlotte's dead body is found.
Back in the present, Henry and a stressed Regina arrive at the crash site of the dirigible in the woods. He tells his mother he knows she thinks this is her fault, but she claims that's not it, because she stood up in Granny's and told everyone from the Land of Untold Stories not to be afraid, "They've only been here one day, I can't let the first story play out like this, not when I'm the one who started it all". The reformed woman suddenly gasps, noticing the corpse of a beautiful blonde woman...Charlotte. Noticing the dark veins leading up to her face, Regina theorizes that the Count poisoned her with the poison she gave him. She moves her hand forward slightly to touch the girl, but a blast of magical energy emits off of her, "What the hell was that? What the hell is going on?!" she yells, confused. "The handmaiden's story finally caught up with her," a voice is heard saying from behind the mother and son. Regina's face is filled with horror, recognizing that voice as none other than her own, only with a malicious, fiendish tone. "Just like yours is catching up with you. Miss me?" the Evil Queen snarls at Regina. Henry turns to the evil half of his mother, shocked, "Hi, sweetie. Mommy's back" the Evil Queen grins.
Regina is reunited with the Evil Queen.
Furious, Regina stands up, pointing out that she killed her, but the queen asks if she really thought it'd be that easy. As Regina gets Henry to stand behind her, the Evil Queen angrily tells her kinder half that after everything she's done for her and after everything they've accomplished together, she threw her away like she never existed: Regina responds that she threw her away because she existed. She attempts to create a fireball in her hand, but her magic seems to fail, so the Evil Queen reveals that she laced Charlotte's cloak with a magic dampening spell. Regina suddenly realizes that her evil half has been controlling the Count this whole time, and with that, the queen reveals that she obviously has. Using her magic, she makes the Count's heart appear in her hand, "I don't leave things to chance" she states. "That's why he didn't want my help. That's why he said I couldn't stop him" Regina says, everything now making a lot more sense. The Evil Queen recalls that she ordered the Count to kill Snow and Charming all those years ago, so now, that's exactly what he's going to do. She chuckles menacingly, tells Regina that she should be thanking her and then leaves in a puff of magic smoke.
The hunter finds its prey.
Meanwhile, over at the Storybrooke Docks, Snow and David walk around a corner, only to run into the Edmond Dantès, who stands waiting for them. He draws a long, thin, sharp sword, scaring the couple. The Count simply stares at them, clearly trying to fight against the Evil Queen's control. "Edmond..." Snow says calmly, followed by David, who tells Edmond that this is all a big misunderstanding. The Count slowly approaches them, telling them that they have no idea. He then unwillingly takes a swing of his sword, causing them both to jump and duck to the ground to avoid being killed.
As Snow and David duck to the ground to avoid the attack from the Count of Monte Cristo, they manage to scurry across the floor, giving them some space. The Count turns to the couple and aims his sword as David promises they can explain everything. Snow nervously explains that the queen is their friend now and has changed, so she no longer wishes them harm and doesn't want him to do this. Edmond tells her she's wrong, "She does" he says before taking another swipe at Snow. However, David grabs a garbage can lid and uses it to deflect the Count's blow. Snow grabs a pipe and whacks it against the Count, pushing him away for a second. However, he returns for another strike, but Snow manages to deflect it with the pipe, allowing David to bash Edmond with the lid, knocking him to the floor, "Then why are you doing this?" he asks, leading Edmond to explain that she has his heart. He begins attacking again, but they continue to deflect his attacks and hit him in return. The Count's sword eventually gets trapped between the lid and pipe, giving David the chance to ask who has his heart. "The Evil Queen" he says, clearly trying to fight against his actions. He manages to break free from the couples hold and then Snow, in disbelief, says "She can't be...", but David points out that it looks like she is...the Evil Queen, no longer suppressed by Regina's goodwill, is back. Edmond attacks David again, but the prince pushes the lid against the Count as he states they'll find a way to stop her. Snow then runs up behind David and pushes him, which in turn forces Edmond to the ground, "We always do" he finishes. Edmond stands up once more and tells the couple that he hopes they do...but then, under the queen's control, he cuts a rope with his sword, sending heavy barrels crashing down on Snow and Charming. With the couple knocked unconscious, Edmond says this isn't the ending he'd hoped for any of them.
Edmond recalls his fiancée.
Back in the fairytale land of the past, Edmond enters the wine cellar to the Royal Castle. He places the poisoned wine on a wooden table and pulls the vial containing the poison from his coat, looking at it with confliction. "Having second thoughts?" Rumplestiltskin asks, suddenly appearing from the shadows of the room, starting the steward. Edmond draws his sword in defense, but Rumple takes it with his magic, giggling as he does so, "No need for that, dearie" he says, dropping the sword, "Tell me, why didn't you poison Snow White and Prince Charming?" he wonders. Edmond explains that he was prepared to poison them, but then he saw Charlotte, "and she reminded me of..." he says, being interrupted by Rumple, "Your fiancée? Yeah, I-I-I can see that. I mean, before she became a rotting corpse. Your love and the handmaiden share the same je ne sais quoi, n'est-ce pas?". Edmond states that Charlotte didn't deserve to die, and if he killed her to get his revenge, he'd be no better than his enemies. Rumple asks if he'll try to kill Snow and Charming again, but Edmond claims he won't, because they don't deserve to die either. Rumple inspect his body language as he says this, and then says "Hm" before clicking his fingers, creating a thudding sound nearby. Edmond asks what the sound was, so Rumple explains that its his insurance policy, "Let's just say in order for my plan to work, I need Prince Charming and Snow White very much alive and procreating. Sorry for the bluntness, but I need what I need. So that means I must make sure that you're never tempted to kill them ever again".
Rumple opens a portal to the Land of Untold Stories.
Rumple then points with his finger in the direction of the sound, leading Edmond to go and look. Hidden behind a barrel he finds an unconscious Charlotte, covered in dark poisoned veins. Rumple giggles with glee as he watches him discover this. Furious, the Count asks why he did this, "If you didn't want me to kill them, kill me, not her!" he yells, "Would that I could, dearie" Rumple mumbles in return. Distraught, Edmond asks where the antidote is, but Rumple explains that there isn't any curse for this poison, "But it can be stopped" he adds, revealing a large key. "A key?" Edmond asks, baffled and angry, but Rumple explains that it's not an ordinary key, but a key to a land "where all stories come to a screeching halt, including Charlotte's story. You know the one - where the poison reaches her heart". The imp gestures his hand towards a door, tempting the Count to go through it. After a moment of consideration, he asks if Charlotte will live if he goes through the door. Rumple confirms that she will, but should he ever leave, then her story and the poison will resume, "And I hate to spoil the ending, but it's really quite tragic". Edmond tells the imp it is settle, pleasing him very much. As Rumple opens the door, revealing a large yellow portal, Edmond picks Charlotte up, ready to save her life.
Regina comes to the rescue.
Back in the present, Edmond apologizes to the unconscious Snow and David, "All I wanted was a fresh start" he says before swinging his sword down on them. However, another sword clashes with his, and it's being held by none other than Regina, who tells him he can still get a fresh start. They push against each other with their swords and Regina tells the Count although the Queen has his heart, he can fight this. He tells her he's tried to fight but he can't. They then engage in a sword battle, swiping viciously. Eventually they clash swords again, allowing Regina the chance to tell the Count his story doesn't have to end like this. Edmond states that his story ended the moment Hyde plucked them from the Land of Untold Stories. Regina knees the Count and then asks if he's talking about Charlotte, "I'm sorry, I was too late" she sadly reveals. "So the poison finally took her..." a heartbroken Edmond says as he pushes away from the mayor. Regina states that although she couldn't save Charlotte, she will save the Count. He begins attacking her with the sword again, and this time pushes her to the ground. Instinctively, Regina tries to conjure up a fireball, but the magic dampening spell is still effecting her. She yells out for Henry, who is hiding behind a nearby box, and tells him to call Emma, because she needs her magic right now.
Edmond is defeated.
Edmond strikes again, but Regina manages to jam his sword into the wood, trapping it. Meanwhile, Henry reveals that he cannot use his phone because the Evil Queen has done something to it. Edmond releases his sword and continues battling with Regina, and this time, he manages to disarm her, sending her sword flying. He laughs victoriously and then turns his attention back to the helpless Snow and David. Regina picks up her sword, but he's already too far away, so he yells for him to stop. "This is the only way" he responds before turning back the couple and preparing to kill them once and for all. With no other options left, Regina has no choice but to throw her sword straight into the Count's back, impaling him. He drops to the floor, dead. Devastated, Regina rushes to his body, and so does Henry, but to make sure his mother is okay. She cries and apologizes to Edmond, but Henry tells her she did what she had to. With that, Snow and David regain consciousness, and they're upset to discover that poor Edmond is dead. Regina cries that she had no choice, but the Evil Queen appears and tells her that's not true. "She is back..." Snow says, making eye contact with her old nemesis. Regina tells her counterpart she couldn't stand by and watch the Count kill her friends, but the Evil Queen reveals she thought heroes always found a third way, "Unless, of course, this means you're not a hero" she taunts her.
The Evil Queen taunts Regina with a scary prediction.
Regina grunts and charges at the Evil Queen, grabbing her by the collar, "I will rip your heart out!" she roars. "Yes! That's the Regina I remember. We do like it rough, don't we" the Evil Queen smiles, proud of the reaction she's received. Regina pushes the Queen away from her as she realizes she didn't want the Count to kill Snow and David, "You wanted me to kill him". The Queen tells her better half that it was the only way to show her that no matter what she does, the darkness will always be inside, "And that tiny bit of darkness I awakened today is only going to grow". Snow approaches the mayor and queen and she tells her friend not to listen to the villain. "Snow...White" the Evil Queen snarls at the sight of her stepdaughter, causing David to be concerned for his wife. Snow claims to not be afraid of her because they defeated her before, so they'll do it again. The Queen reveals that she won't be the one to destroy their happy endings this time. Regina asks who is, "You" the Queen responds, "You're going to destroy everyone's happy endings". Snow tells the Queen she won't divide this family, but she responds that she won't have to, because the people from the Land of Untold Stories aren't the only one with tales they don't want told, "And when your stories finally play out" she continues, chuckling, "I'll just sit back and watch you...tear yourselves apart" she says in a taunting singsong voice. Regina, Snow, David and Henry are all left speechless, causing the Evil Queen to laugh menacingly before disappearing in a cloud of purple smoke.
Over at Granny's Diner, a troubled Regina, who's sat across a table from Snow and Emma, takes a drink of alcohol, as her former nemesis assures her that what happened with the Count of Monte Cristo isn't her fault. Regina scoffs at this, but Emma points out that the Evil Queen trapped her without any other choice, "Of course I had a choice" Regina retaliates, stating she should've kept the Queen inside, where she'd be her problem. Emma tells the mayor that this is what the Queen wants: for her to doubt herself, so Regina comments that she's doing a hell of a job. Snow interrupts, telling Regina that this may all be new to her, but she's faced the Evil Queen before, and she never once did it by running away. She explains that they have to face the Queen head on and get ahead of her plan, so Regina asks how they do that. Snow claims she doesn't know, then asking Regina to think like the Evil Queen, "What did she mean when she said we all have stories we don't want told?" With that, Emma's visions are triggered. She begins seeing the flashes of her death at that hands of the hooded figure. Her hand begins shaking as a result, so she grabs it with her other to control it. Noticing this, Regina asks the blonde if she's okay, "Yeah, I'm fine" she responds, taking a drink of her coffee to hide her face.
Meanwhile, Hook and Charming approach a frustrated Henry, who is sat at the bar, reading his storybook, "This isn't how the Count's story should have ended" the boy grumbles, stating he should've known that Operation Cobra: Part Two wouldn't have been as simple as he thought. David wonders why that is, so Henry points out that it's a sequel, and they're always more involved than the original. Hook is baffled, so Henry begins listing sequels, "The Empire Strikes Back? Godfather: Part Two? Temple of Doom?". Hook remains confused, so the boy explains that they're the best sequels ever, "It's definitely time for a movie night". To explain things more clearly, Henry tells the two men that when his mother helped break the curse the first time it was simple, "Those people had been ripped away from the stories they wanted to play out". David finishes the explanation by pointing out these people ran away from their stories for a reason. The boy adds that before they can help them, they need to find out why they ran. David tells him to keep reading, so he does so, and Hook joins him. However, the prince turns around and notices an envelope on a stool addressed to him. He opens it and pulls out a small metal coin...the same small metal coin the Evil Queen retrieved from Gold's pawnshop. He goes silent for a moment, clearly recognizing the item and its significance. Hook asks if he's okay, so he assures him that he's fine, but just going to get some air.
The Evil Queen taunts David with an unpleasant moment of his childhood.
David exits the diner, still looking at the coin. "How do you like your gift?" the Evil Queen asks, suddenly appearing behind the prince. Unnerved, he claims he should've known it came from her before, in a serious tone, asking why she gave it to him. She tells him it's simple, because like she said, they all have untold stories waiting to be played out, however, David tells the Queen that this one has already been told. He explains that the coin was a good luck charm he wrapped around his father's wrist before he left their farm. She tauntingly asks if he means the trip where he met his untimely demise, but David affirms she won't get in his head, stating his father succumbed to his weakness by getting drunk and then died in a cart accident. Finished with the Queen, he begins heading back inside, but she stops him, explaining that she's not here because of his daddy issues, "I'm here to ask you one question" she reveals. David sighs, and turns to face the Queen. "Are you sure it was an accident?" she asks with a devious grin. The Queen then disappears in cloud of purple smoke, leaving behind a confused David to think of what she said.
Zelena is offered a new sister.
Later that night, over at Zelena's Farmhouse, Zelena is awoken by the cries of her newborn baby. With a green robe on, she assures her child that she won't be long, but the crying suddenly stops. As Zelena approaches the room where the baby sleeps, she notices the crib empty and the sound of a rattle, "You like this rattle, don't you, little one?" the Evil Queen asks, sitting in a chair with the infant, "My mother used to use it to soothe me" she tells her niece. Nervous, Zelena approaches the Queen, "Our mother used that on you?" she asks, somewhat saddened to be reminded of the childhood she never had. The Queen confirms that she did and then gives it to her sister as a gift. The redhead wonders what it's for, so after putting Robin back in her crib, the Evil Queen points out that she didn't tell Regina about their visit to the vault, "You didn't even tell her I was in town. You know how much I admire the ability to keep a secret". Zelena realizes that it was all a test, causing the Queen to give a little smile, confirming so. Zelena comments that she thought the Evil Queen would be different to Regina, but the Queen assures her that she is, "Because, unlike her, I will never doubt you again". Recalling when the Queen said she'd get her sister back, Zelena realizes she didn't mean Regina, leading the Queen to tell her she's the sister she wants, "I know this because...you're just like me - You would never settle for less. And Regina is quite literally..." she says, grabbing a martini shaker, "the lesser of two evils". The Evil Queen chuckles.
Emma fears that Regina may be the one to kill her.
Over at Archie's office, Emma enters, startling the therapist as she apologizes for being out of learn earlier. She tells him she thinks he's right and should tell her family about the visions/dreams. He tells the blonde he's glad to hear that, but she butts in and tells him she can't tell them yet. He wonders if this has anything to do with her rival, the Evil Queen, "You heard?" she asks, leading him to explain that Bashful is his patient at four o'clock and he likes to talk about current events before diving in. Emma then tells Archie about how the Queen said she'd tear them all apart and she's already tried to blacken Regina's heart. Archie wonders if she's worried she'll succeed, so Emma explains that she's worried about who's under the hood. We begin to see the flashes of Emma's future death again as she explains she's worried about who might kill her. Archie asks who is going to kill her, so Emma points out the one person who isn't with her family in the vision...Regina. The therapist asks if she's worried about Regina or the Evil Queen, "I don't know" she responds.
- The title card of this episode features Regina's palace.
- The title of this episode was officially confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on July 13, 2016.
- This episode marks the twenty-fourth writing credit for Andrew Chambliss and the eighth for Dana Horgan, as well as the eleventh directing credit for Ron Underwood.
The episode saw a slight decrease from the previous outing, with a 1.1/4 rating among 18-49s and 3.67 million viewers tuning in.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "TV Ratings Sunday: ‘Madam Secretary’ and ‘Elementary’ return lower, FOX gets NFL bump", by TV, The Numbers/Zap2It (October 3, 2016)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time premiere recap: A Bitter Draught'", by Justin Kirkland, Entertainment Weekly (October 2, 2016)