As our heroes set out to stop Mr. Hyde, who's turning Storybrooke into a haven for refugees from the Land of Untold Stories, Emma develops a mysterious side-effect, at the same time that Regina and Zelena embrace their newfound sisterhood by becoming roommates. Meanwhile, Rumple continues trying to free Belle from her sleeping curse with the help of a stranger and, in Agrabah of the past, Jafar confronts an afflicted Aladdin, unveiling a secret about "the savior" in the process.
Many years ago...
A chase through the desert.
We are taken across the hills of a desert land as a man, Emir, hurriedly rides his horse in the hopes of finding refuge from whatever it is that's chasing him. A red blast of lightning is then fired at the ground, missing Emir and his horse by only a hair's breadth, and Emir looks behind himself before doing his best to gather speed, at the same time narrowly avoiding yet another blast of right lightning. His attacker then comes into view: a man on a flying carpet, surfing his way through the air in an attempt to subdue his prey. Emir's horse rides like the wind while the assailant on his tail rides the wind in a more literal fashion, firing yet another jet of red magic his way from the eyes of his serpent staff. Finally, after a few more tawdry gallops across this nigh-barren realm, Emir makes it to what appears to be some kind of safe-haven. A very small temple of sorts that is fenced off, save for the passageway that allows entry for Emir and his horse. He calls for help inside as we are taken in there ourselves, and a rather rundown looking gentleman is seen sitting there with his head bowed, appearing desolate as he hears Emir outside screaming that "he's coming" and that he needs help. As Emir finally enters the room, a young nurse gets up from tending to the rundown man, and then their refugee begs the gentleman's attention, eventually stating, "We need the savior."
The "savior" fails to do his job.
The apparent savior, however, can't stop shaking as his hands clasp themselves around a cup, and the young nurse apologizes to Emir, having to inform him that the savior isn't seeing anyone today. Emir wants to know what's wrong with him, at which point a wind sweeps under his feet as the flying carpet prepares to land outside. Indeed, we see it heading towards the hut with its rider on top, and Emir appears more than a little afraid as Jafar enters the room, clutching that famed serpent staff of his. Emir addresses him by name, begging for mercy, only for the notorious villain to choke him with his magic. The savior does nothing, continuing to sit there as, eventually, the man who came to him for help is reduced to nothing but a pile of dust by the evil magician in his wake. "Pathetic," Jafar assesses, "The great savior, hiding. This is a sad day indeed." The young nurse asks that Jafar not hurt the savior, only for him to then wave his hand and cause her to pass out uselessly in the corner. The savior crawls his way to the side as Jafar says that he heard word and then had to come see for himself: "Look at the great Aladdin now. And to think, you could have escaped this fate."
Jafar intimidates Aladdin.
Aladdin looks up at his nemesis and finally makes it to his feet, albeit with great difficulty. He tells Jafar that if he's going to kill him then he should just get it over with, but Jafar refuses, for he wants to savor this moment. "Do you remember when we first met? You were nothing but a common thief. But you had honor, despite what you did to me. The irony is delicious. It took becoming a hero for you to completely come apart." As Jafar says this, he begins circling Aladdin, intimidating him. "But that's what always happens to saviors, isn't it? That's the fate of saviors. You give, and give, and give, and for what?" He's now right in Aladdin's face as he adds, "They pick the fruit, they cut the branches, and all that's left is this shaky stump. That's why you never ever hear these words about a savior: 'They lived happily ever after.'" Jafar takes such joy in this, passing a red bird in a cage on his way out of the hut. His parting words to Aladdin are "do take care", which seems to anger the savior very much. And then the shaking resumes, with him raising his hand to the light as an unknown side-effect influences him in a very damaging way. As he grows weaker, our view of him grows fainter, and then...
ONCE UPON A TIME
Emma's car is seen parked outside her house as the noise of two people kissing passionately is heard emanating from inside. Indeed, following their very recent declaration of love, Hook and Emma are now attempting to fornicate on the latter's couch, with her then interrupting the process to ask about the whereabouts of her son. After all, neither of them would want this moment interrupted, but Hook assures that Henry is with Regina, meaning that they be as disruptive as they so desire as they fall back onto the couch. As Emma's back hits the cushions, however, she once again interrupts the kissing to ask about her parents, only for Hook - who's very eager to continue - to assure that they have no interest in walking in on this, "Believe me." More kissing, and then Emma struggles in an attempt to remove her jacket. To her surprise, Hook seems more than fine with her leaving it on, with him declaring that he likes it, and she laughs as the two of them continue to try and become lovers. And then the shaking starts, with the table vibrating thanks to some sort of disturbance outside and the glass resting on top of it making a large amount of noise. Hook is the first to notice this, with Emma then turning her head in confusion as well. She wonders what the hell is going on and so Hook gets to his feet and helps her to hers also, at which she notices the chandelier to be rattling on top of everything else. The couple then hightail it outside to see what's causing all this racket and their view is almost immediately drawn to the skies as a large shadow passes over them. It appears that some sort of airship is soaring through the air far overhead, heading for the woods, making itself very obvious to the people of Storybrooke as it hovers its way over the whole of the town.
The townspeople meet their new owner.
With the airship near the end of its descent, a mass of townspeople are seen arriving at a large grassy clearing in the forest, led by the usual of Storybrooke's resident heroes. It appears they've followed it all the way there, incredibly curious about what's happening, and, as everyone looks up at it as it prepares to make a landing somewhere nearby, David is the first to vocalize what everyone is thinking by asking just what the hell it is. Dr. Jekyll recognizes it as being a dirigible from the Land of Untold Stories, and so Snow wonders what it's doing in their town. "I believe you mean my town," says Mr. Hyde, emerging from the trees, and the heroes turn to him in anger. Snow, clutching her bow, makes clear that this is not his town, only for him to respond that she should try telling that to the Dark One - after all, it was he who gave it to him. Regina appears highly indignant at this while Hyde excuses himself to prepare for his friends' arrival, implying that they are the dirigible's passengers. Emma then gains Regina's attention with a whisper, signifying that she wants to combine powers to take this guy down, but Regina whispers in reply that she got rid of her evil half and thus doesn't know how strong she is anymore.
Some new arrivals come crashing into the woods.
The savior assures that evil did not make her strong and then says, "Let's do this." She then commands Hyde's attention by yelling and addressing him as "mutton chops", right before she and Regina fire two rather hefty blasts of magic in his direction. He appears to stumble as the white and red beams hit him at full force, with the townspeople stepping back to avoid any collateral from this powerful display of mystical energies. However, despite Emma and Regina pouring their very best into this attack, and despite the sounds of Hyde struggling against them, he soon starts giggling manically and forces them to realize that their magic in fact has no effect on him. He is impervious to it, able to stand straight in its path and even duck out the way so that the only damage it actually does is to a rock that used to be behind him. He then offers the people of Storybrooke some words of advice: "Do be careful. Nothing more dangerous than an untold story. And the people who don't want them told." The heroes then grows distracted by the noise of the dirigible finally crashing into the woods, and then it disappears from view.
Snow finds it difficult to track the refugees.
Emma and the others are soon seen making their way to the site of the dirigible's crash, careful not to step on any of the many defects that fell from the airship as it made its rather ineffectual landing. The blimp used to carry it has now been torn asunder by the trees, while the ship itself appears deserted, as is confirmed when Emma pokes her head inside the entrance and begins calling out for people. She garners no response, and soon declares to a nearby David that there's nobody inside, causing him to turn around in confusion and ask where the hell everybody is. Snow, as she inspects the tracks left behind from the people of the Land of Untold Stories, explains that they ran into the forest; it's difficult to tell exactly how many people there are but by the spacing of their steps she can deduce they were in quite the hurry - now they're out there, scattered. She wonders what Hyde wants with them but Jekyll says that it's hard to tell for, depending on who he brought with him, these stories playing out could create chaos. "That's helpful..." Regina sighs, with Jekyll then assuring that all may not be lost, asking if Hook and the Charmings recall the orderly's baton that Snow used to subdue Hyde in their realm ("An Untold Story"); he explains that that same technology made the dirigible and so, with the crash site at hand, he may be able to scavenge enough to make a weapon that will work on Hyde, considering that's the only thing he's ever seen that can bring him down. David proclaims that they should get to salvaging, with everyone then starting to pick up whatever scraps from the wreckage that they think might be useful. Henry rifles through some boards while David picks up a large metal plate, deeming it useless and throwing it to one side. Due it to landing against something else metal, a large clink is heard, and this triggers something deep within Emma...
A most peculiar vision.
The clinking of blades. Suddenly, we are taken to a misty night within Emma's vision as she sees herself battling against an unknown assailant. The sounds of their swords bashing together are the reminiscent of the sound heard by Emma just now, hence the sudden appearance of this odd hallucination. Within it, Emma appears to be struggling in her fight against some sort of cloaked figure, but we're only shown a very brief segment of a much larger conflict.
Emma is shaking now, back at the cash site, with the image of her swashbuckling a mysterious fiend having filled her mind. She then shoots up, attempting to right herself, but this rather off moment fails to go unnoticed by those around her. Snow asks her daughter if she's okay, only for Hook to then needlessly step out in front of her and ask essentially the same thing, wanting to know what just happened. After hesitating, Emma replies, "Nothing," then saying that they should keep going. Hook is perturbed by her behavior, continuing to watch as she makes her way further into the woods so as to be alone for a moment. With no one around her, her hand suddenly begins to shake again, and she tries to contain it with her other hand. Of course, we've seen this symptom before - in Aladdin - but Emma is entirely unaware of what's happening to her, and this makes the savior scared.
Hyde tells Gold of the Temple of Morpheus.
We are taken through the mists of another realm before being taken down to Mr. Gold as he strolls through a forest below, appearing rather determined as he begins to think back to his earlier conversation...
"Alright, Mr. Hyde," we hear him saying in the past, "You have the keys to Storybrooke, now tell me what I want to know. How can I wake Belle?"
Still in the present, Gold walks several feet through the forest before going into his inside pocket and taking out a folded-up piece of parchment. After he unfurls it, we see that it's a map, and he's looking at it rather intently.
"There is a place called the Temple of Morpheus," we see Hyde saying to Rumple in the past, back when they made their deal ("An Untold Story"). He adds that, in it, the Dark One will find sands that will allow him to walk in Belle's dreams. Then, he'll be able to wake her.
Coinciding with what we hear from Hyde, we are shown that the map is leading the way to the Temple of Morpheus, which Rumple then actually spots across all the mountains and such in his path. After folding the map away and placing it back in his pocket, Rumple proceeds to disappear in his usual flurry of red smoke, reappearing inside the temple itself several miles away.
Rumple enters his wife's dreams.
A platformed mattress awaits at the top of a grand staircase, which he has just bypassed the effort of climbing, and finally he is able to take out Pandora's Box and use his magic to open it on up. The red crystal embedded into the lid glows and lifts up, unleashing a far brighter red mist which soon takes the form of Belle. Thanks to the sleeping curse she's under, she remains unconscious, but nice and cozy atop the aforementioned mattress that's been conveniently provided. Rumple takes a look at his spellbound wife, with her being free at last, before turning his attention to a nearby urn and removing it from its pedestal; he pours some of the contents - magical sands - out into his palm, then returning it to its rightful place and sprinkling said sands over Belle's sleeping body. As the magic of the sands is worked, the scenery changes around Rumple as he suddenly finds himself transported into his true love's dreamworld. It appears just like the Enchanted Forest, only covered in a thick veil of mist, and the Dark One turns around in confusion as he notices a strange man emerging from nearby. "Who are you?" Rumple asks, and the stranger introduces himself as Morpheus. He then welcomes Rumple to Belle's dreamworld and asks if he'd like to wake her up, which he is of course interested in.
Zelena makes her presence known in her sister's home.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina approaches her house and is surprised to find, upon entry, that a whole load of boxes are currently filling the place, as well as the cries of a baby. "Zelena?" the former Queen calls out as she makes her way through the foyer, then hearing a noise from the room next door and growing cautious; however, Zelena soon makes herself known, little Robin in tow, and jokingly welcomes her sister to the "madhouse". Regina demands to know what is going on, referring to all the mess currently in her home, and Zelena explains that she's just unpacking, before asking what's happening out in the town. Stressed from her earlier encounter with Mr. Hyde, Regina reveals that Rumple handed the place over to the evil warden, and Zelena excitedly says to her daughter that it sounds as though it's time for a showdown. "Doesn't it, sweetness?" Making sure to retain a motherly warmth to her voice, she places Robin down in her crib and instructs her to have a nice nap while her mummy helps barbecue "mean old Mr. Hyde", but Regina suggests that her sister actually remain in the house. Zelena doesn't like this idea, and then she's told that Hyde is impervious to whatever Regina throws at him which means they have to play defense. Still not liking it, the formerly Wicked Witch scoffs that Regina's kept her in worse prisons, at which Regina reminds her that she said she was sorry about previously keeping her sister locked up.
Regina prepares to get pissy about a feather.
"I'm joking!" Zelena assures, "Seriously, you opened up your home to us, so, as long as we're here, I'm... I'm so grateful." Regina nods, believing that it will be good for the two of them, and suddenly Zelena remembers that she's got something to give her. She tells Regina that Roland gave her something of Robin's that he wanted to give to her ("Only You"), which Regina seems touched and excited by, and Zelena elaborates that it was a feather from one of Robin's arrows. However, judging by the fact that she's looking all over the place for it, it appears that the feather is lost, and Zelena, having just commented on how sweet Roland's gesture was, tries avoiding blame by pretending that she just remembered that she put it away somewhere extra specially safe. At this, Regina tries her best to act nonchalant, telling her sister not to even worry about it. She then gestures the mess and says that a little chaos is normal, adding that she's just going to put a protection spell over the house and around the vault; "And you can... find the feather?" Zelena promises that she will find it, and Regina smiles unconvincingly. Her sister asks her if she's angry, but Regina shakes her head and says, "Of course not."
So Snow encourages her to talk through her issues.
Contrary to what's just been stated, Regina can be see rather clearly letting out her rage as she aggressively applies the protection spell to the entrance of her vault, thrice in succession. With it staying strong, she begins to lower her arms, just as Snow approaches from behind and comments that it looks safe and sound to her. Regina makes clear that there is no way Hyde is getting into her vault, but Snow says that they might not have to worry about him anymore since Jekyll finished his weapon. The former Queen seems pleased with the doctor's handiwork, determining that he's eager to defeat his bitter half, and Snow confirms this, then asking how Regina is dealing with having done the same thing. "I'm fine," Regina shrugs, "I'm better than fine even, it's... did I mention I'm fine?" Snow finds it obvious that something is bothering her though and Regina finally admits to it, saying that something is gnawing at her: something with red hair and a fondness for pointy hats. Snow realizes that Regina is talking about her sister and Regina acknowledges that the source of her anger may sound petty, but Roland gave Zelena something of Robin's to give to her and she already lost it. A feather from his arrow. Snow seems surprised by this, saying that she knows Regina and that this isn't about a feather, at which Regina responds that she doesn't know what it's about. "Well, whatever it is, just talk to her about it!" Snow encourages, "Put it out in the open, deal with your pain." "Maybe..." Regina utters, and Snow gives her a look. Right now, the former Queen would rather focus on getting Hyde the hell out of town, and so she sets off for the ambush. Snow begs her not to avoid this but Regina insists that she isn't; after all, Snow of all people should know that heroism comes first.
Jekyll is used to lure out his worse half.
The heroes can be seen staking out town hall, where apparently Hyde has taken up residence, and Regina soon approaches Emma alongside Jekyll and asks her if she's ready. Emma, who's crouched down in hiding behind the bushes with the newly constructed weapon in tow, assures that she is, although she doesn't look it, while Regina and Jekyll proceed to get into position for what's about to go down. The former Queen drags the doctor across the town hall paving, making it look as though he's her prisoner, and calls out for Mr. Hyde, requesting that he come out and take what he really wants - lest he would like for her to deprive him of the pleasure and kill Jekyll herself. Hyde then comes bursting from the entrance way, greeting Regina with a smile, and Emma gets herself into a better standpoint to shoot Hyde with the weapon as Regina tells him that if he leaves town then his "good" half is all his. However, Hyde points out a problem with her proposal: that his work is there, in Storybrooke, and it's only just beginning. As such, he'd like to alter the deal so that he takes Jekyll and keeps Storybrooke while Regina gets to avoid embarrassing herself because, while everyone was afraid of the Queen, she isn't so scary. "No deal," Regina states, having let Jekyll go, and then she summons a fireball into her hand and throws it at the warden. It does nothing, of course, but it does distract him, giving Emma the perfect moment to strike with the electronic firer. However, she grows suddenly incapable thanks to...
More visions prevent Emma from attacking on time.
Another vision of the same fight; Emma in a black tank top, wielding a sword.
She shakes in the present, clutching the weapon, her eyes going out of focus as her hands tremor.
More flashes of the battle, the clinking of blades, and soon enough Emma is going back and forth from this foresight and what's happening in front of her right now. Because of this, she fails to fire on time, meaning Regina has to call out for her. During this time, Hyde clutches the Mayor by the throat and begins to lift her up, strangling her, and Emma just stares at the tool she's supposed to be using, still trembling like crazy.
Another shot of the sword-fight, so fast pace, against this unknown, cloaked, hooded and gloved enemy that Emma is trying so hard to defeat.
"Emma!" Regina is able to choke out as Hyde's grip on her throat tightens, and finally the warden turns to see the savior and is caught off-guard by the powerful weapon she's toting.
Clashing swords. Emma stumbling. The cloaked figure striking down at her with his blade. It's taking place somewhere familiar.
A subdued Hyde claims to know what's happening to the savior.
Regina once again calling her name springs Emma back to action, and she flicks the switch on the device and blasts Hyde backwards with a hefty dose of lightning. He literally goes flying, smashing through the windshield of the car parked nearby, and quickly the other heroes rush to subdue him. Jekyll slaps him with a pair of shackles, explaining that they're specially made so that the warden can't break out of them, while David drags him away and begins hauling his ass off to prison. Emma, meanwhile, approaches Regina sorrowfully, asking if she's okay, and Regina, rubbing her throat, assures that she is, though she'd like to know what's wrong with the blonde. "Why did you hesitate?" she demands, but Emma insists that nothing's wrong and that she's fine. She approaches Hyde as Hook and David steady him by either arm, and he asks Emma if she's really a savior. She tells him to shut up because he's their prisoner now, and Snow adds that she should ignore him. "Yes, ignore me, just like your tremors," Hyde adds as he's dragged away, and Emma begins chasing after him, needing to hear what it is that he knows. "More than you. If you wish to know what's happening to you, you know where to find me," he manages to say before David stuffs him into the back of the sheriff's car, and Emma seems to be genuinely considering the option of speaking to him about her sudden affliction, desperately needing to know what it's all about.
Archie tries getting Emma to realize her issues.
Emma returns to the site of the crashed dirigible in the forest and, as she inspects the wreckage, feels her hand start to tremor once more. She tries her best to tame it, and eventually succeeds, then being greeted by a familiar dalmatian and its owner. The savior greets Archie, who brings with him two cups of coffee, and Pongo as well, whom she gives some fuss. She then asks what the two of them are doing there and Archie says how he heard she was out looking for new arrivals and so he thought maybe she'd want some coffee. Seeing through this attempt at an excuse, Emma rightfully deduces that her parents sent him, and the therapist wastes no time in admitting it. He tells her that they're a little worried about her, due to the off moments she's been having, and they thought it might be easier for her to talk to... "A cricket?" Emma questions, seeming annoyed, and then she apologizes, making clear that she didn't mean that like she was "anti-cricket", it's just that she's not really in the mood for therapy right now. In Archie's experience, that is usually when people need it the most, and Emma fails to respond. The conscience adds that she's been fighting bad guys for years without a break, then recalling that when he met her all that time ago she had nothing but walls around her to protect her, but since then - with Henry and her family and Hook - those walls are down. Emma asks if that's not a good thing and Archie assures her that of course it is, but it also let in all the collateral damage of all that fighting she does. Finally accepting the coffee on offer, Emma requests to know how she's supposed to fix that, and Archie says, "With time. And, and some hard work." She wonders if he can't give her a pill or something, but he tells her that when it comes to fixing our biggest problems... there are no shortcuts. The savior doesn't appear happy with this declaration, but then she gets a contradictory idea.
Emma pays Hyde a visit.
The wheel on the outside of a large metal door spins around frantically as it is unlocked, and we soon see Emma entering one of the cells in the basement of the hospital. The door closes behind her, thanks to her magic, and Mr. Hyde - who's been relocated here - realizes that she's taken him up on his offer and calls her a smart girl for doing so. Emma tells him to keep calling her "girl" and see how that works out for him, while he gestures the shackles on his wrists, which have now been attached via a chain to the wall, and requests that she take them off and see how that works out for her. He has yet to make eye contact, just staring out the grated window, and Emma finally comes forward to remind the warden that he said he knew what was wrong with her, and now she needs him to prove it. Hyde then looks at her, turning and smiling and taking a casual attitude to the whole thing, and he reminds her that she was a prisoner once and should therefore know how this works. Surprised by his apparent knowledge, Emma asks what makes him think she was in prison, at which he reminds her that he was a warden and he knows that "caged look" which never quite fades.
And threatens to leave him to rot.
As such, she must know that prisoners respond to carrots and sticks and she brought neither, and so he suggests that next time she try a bottle of Syrah and two glasses. Emma realizes that he has no idea how to help her, moving to exit the cell, but he exclaims that he knows about the battle in her mind's eye, and he slowly sits down on the bed as she stops in her tracks. She turns back to him, needing to know more, only for him to point out that he thought she was just leaving. After taking a moment, Emma approaches him coldly, telling him that he's right and sitting down on the bed next to him. "I was in prison," she admits, "The worst part about it was the loneliness. It sucked. Especially for a guy like you who likes to talk so much. So, you can either tell me what you know... or I'll walk out of here, and I will not come back with wine. I just won't come back. Nobody will." Mr. Hyde indeed looks a tad desolate at this, failing to respond in any way, shape or form, and so Emma stands up and re-approaches the door.
Until he gives her some info.
She reiterates her point, saying that he can just sit there in silence or he can rot, and finally he replies that she did come with a stick after all. "That's very impressive, savior, except for one small thing..." he adds as he too gets up from the bed - and then he lunges for her, his arms poised to strangle, only for the chain to stop short of allowing him to clasp his hands around her throat. Emma stands there, back against the closed door, looking terrified, and Hyde notices her hand trembling yet again. She makes a fist to stop it, and he points out, managing to touch her chin with his finger, that she is afraid of him. "Aren't you?" Then he tells her not to worry because he brought someone that can help fix her problem and if she wants to find them then she need only follow the red bird. Emma questions this, but Hyde says that the true question is whether or not she's ready to face her own story. After calling her "savior" one more time, he suddenly retreats, making her jump, and she's left staring at him for a moment.
Belle still views Rumple... as a beast.
A mist once again encompasses our view before we're taken back to Belle's dreamworld, which Rumple is still wandering. He comes to a stop at the end of the forest, appearing surprised by something, and Morpheus soon emerges from behind, saying that here they are. We then see that the Dark One is staring out at his old castle from the Enchanted Forest, and he questions why his wife would want to dream about it, but Morpheus explains that usually our dreams pick us as opposed to the other way around.
Inside the Dark Castle, Belle walks past a bouquet of black roses while in her old maid's outfit, then going to look at herself in the mirror in the foyer before being startled by the sudden opening of the doors behind her. "Rumplestiltskin!" she exclaims as Mr. Gold enters, and she fearfully tells him how she didn't think he'd be back from his journey so soon. As she says this, Gold sees himself in the mirror as his old, pre-cursed self - all crocodile skin and leather attire - and appears confused as he remains standing there in his usual pawnbroker's suit. As he marvels this, Belle begs that he not be angry, for she hasn't had time to prepare the tea, but she promises that she can have it ready in no time before scurrying off back to the dining hall in a panic.
Morpheus gives the Dark One a time limit.
Rumple goes to follow her, still seeing his old self in the mirror, but as soon as she exits the room he sees himself as he is, and Morpheus requests that he let her go because she's lost in a dream and in her mind she's still a servant. "And you are still a beast." Rumple turns to him at this, with Morpheus adding how fascinating it is to learn how people really see you, but the Dark One claims that it doesn't matter. He vows to find a way to wake her, but Morpheus warns him that time is a luxury he does not have, then using his magic to make a large hourglass appear in his hand in a flurry of purple smoke. "The sands that allow passage to Belle's dream will not last forever," he makes clear, "If you do not wake Belle within one hour she will return to the red room of the sleeping curse, a most horrid fiery fate. And this time, she will remain there forever. So I would hurry up if I were you, if you love her." Rumple exclaims that of course he loves her, and that's how he's going to get her out of there: he'll make her fall in love with him again.
A tale as old as time.
Taking note of the place's gloominess, with its black and rotting decor, Rumple comments that while he knows his castle wasn't exactly cheery, it was never like this. Morpheus says that to Belle it was; this castle terrified her, so in her dream it's become a terrifying place. Rumple points out that it's also the place where they fell in love, certain that they can again if they could just recreate that moment, but Morpheus points out in turn that it would just be some cruel trick. He asks if the Dark One is willing to lie to his wife, to which he replies that it may be a trick, but his love for Belle is true. "My love for her and my child will never be a lie," he declares, squaring up to Morpheus a little before walking away, into the room where Belle is currently preparing the tea. The dining hall is just as gloomy as the foyer, but the tea set is exactly the same. As she sets it down on the large table, Rumple enters the room as his fairytale self, seeing Belle about to pour the tea from the teapot to one of the cups. Upon noticing him, she appears startled, meekly mumbling how sorry she is and that she almost has the tea ready; however, as she tips the teapot, the teacup drops from her hand... and Rumple deftly catches it before it hits the floor, assuring his maid that it's alright.
A song as old as rhyme.
"See? It's not even chipped," he adds, looking up at her, and Belle smiles, thanking him as he returns to his feet. Their hands meet as he passes the teacup to her and there is a moment of heavy tension, broken when Rumple tells her that he thinks she's done enough for one day and suggests that she take a break. With that, he clicks his fingers, and his magic is worked over the nearby gramophone. Its needle bears down on a record and a familiar song starts playing, leading Belle to ask her captor what's going on, for this isn't like him. Rumple makes up that he has a ball to attend to later and he's a bit rusty, then asking if she'll help him practice. Belle says that she wasn't aware that she had any choices in this place, only for Rumple to assure her that she does. He holds out his hand, wanting her to take it, and, slowly, she does. She takes his other hand as well, and then they begin slowly moving in time with the music. They elegantly step around the castle floor and, as this goes on, it starts to lose is gloomy qualities. Brightness starts to engulf the room, turning crimson into red and making everything generally a lot nicer and more welcoming. Like a home.
Beauty and the beast.
It seems dancing with Rumple is subconsciously lessening Belle's fear of him, in terms of her dream, and he soon comments that she's doing wonderfully well. "There's just one more thing we need," he says, stepping back. He snaps his fingers again and his magic transforms Belle's maid uniform into a beautiful golden gown, fit for a princess. She is gorgeous, and Rumple is marveled by the sight of his beauty. Taken aback and looking down at herself, Belle wonders what has come over the Dark One, to which he replies that maybe he's tired of being a beast. Belle doesn't know how to respond, instead just giving off a small smile, and then Rumple requests that they practice one more time, even saying "please". With his hand once again outstretched, Belle decides to take it, her smile growing, and then one hand moves to his shoulder while one of his moves to her waist. The elegant stepping continues, made nicer by the flow of Belle's new gown, and Rumple even twirls her slowly a couple of times. Romance is certainly in the air for these two.
Zelena just wants to help, but Regina won't let her.
Back in reality, a whole world away, Regina is seen stepping into her mayoral office, taking a moment to breathe it in. The way she walks is slow and sullen, and then she starts to cry over the spot where Robin lost his life. "I heard we got Hyde," says Zelena as she enters the room after her sister, "I thought it would take weeks and weeks of battles and twists and turns and... here you go doing it day one. Kudos to you, sis." Relenting her tears before turning around, Regina gives a perfunctory response, leading Zelena to ask her what's wrong. Regina then explains that this is the first time she's been back here since Robin died, and Zelena understands; however, she seems confused when her sister says she needs a moment, and Regina defends that it's just hard. "I know," Zelena nods sadly, "I lost someone here too." At this, Regina apologizes before asking the formerly Wicked Witch to please go, at which the latter asks if they shouldn't be helping each other. "No," Regina finds herself saying, to Zelena's confusion, and, when asked why not, the Mayor steps forward and admits, "Because I blame you. Every time I look at you, I-I blame you for what happened!"
Two sisters have a falling out.
Zelena doesn't understand this, pointing out that Emma was the one who dragged her off to hell, but Regina makes clear that she chose to go whereas, with Zelena, she trusted her and because of that Robin's soul was obliterated. Hurt by this, Zelena says that if Regina wants to talk about trust then fine, then ranting that her sister made the biggest decision in her life - ripping out the evil part of her - and she just went to Snow White before coming to her own flesh and blood. Regina angrily asks why she even cares and Zelena rages, "You ripped out the part of yourself that was most like me!" Regina doesn't know what her sister wants her to say, but Zelena doesn't want her to say anything, merely stating that she and the baby will be out of Regina's home by tonight. She then vanishes in a cloud of green smoke and Regina is just left standing there, her recently developed sisterly bond destroyed in a matter of minutes.
The Charmings get the new arrivals to trust them.
Snow and David are out in the woods at night, looking for arrivals, when the latter puts away his cell phone and says that he just received word from Emma and Hook, who said that there are no signs of Hyde's friends on the North side. His wife points out that it's getting dark and so finding them won't get any easier, but David suddenly tells her to wait, then plucking a stick from the ground and throwing it to one side, causing a net to lift: a booby trap, intended for them. Snow comments on how amateurish the trap is, realizing that they must have been in a hurry, and then looks out at the woods. She deduces that they're hiding because they're scared and don't know they can trust them, taking a few steps forward and standing up on a tree stump, which acts like a podium. "Hello?!" she calls out to the people from the Land of Untold Stories hiding in the forest, "My name is Snow White, you can trust me! Hyde is locked up, he can't hurt you!" There is no sign of a response, and so she keeps going: "The people in our town want to help!" And then, from a distance, a flame is seen emerging - and then another. Silhouettes carrying torches. David points them out and Snow looks in time to see a whole multitude of people now coming out of hiding. She seems pleased, and tells them that there's a place called Granny's Diner that'll give them food, and there'll be people there who can arrange for shelter. Snow nudges her husband and wants to leave, stepping down from the tree stump and adding to the people that they'll be there whenever they're ready; and with that, the Charmings flee the woods, and the otherworldly torch-wielders watch them go.
Emma blows off Hook for a bird.
Over in the North side, Emma gets off the phone from her parents and alerts Hook that they found some of Hyde's people and sent them over to Granny's Diner for food and shelter. Hook sees this as wonderful, though his demeanor tells a different story, and he adds that he could use some food and shelter right about now. Suddenly, a red bird flies its way up to a high branch nearby, and Emma is taken aback by the sight. Remembering what Hyde told her, her hand begins to tremble again, and then she tells Hook to go on ahead because she's going to stay. Hook questions this, pointing out that it's pitch black and freezing, then asking if she's really that desperate to avoid talking to him. This confuses Emma, who says that she's not avoiding talking to him; it's just that she needs to be alone. "Emma, look at your hand," Hook says, and Emma forces herself to stop the trembling. He asks what the hell is going on with her but she insists that it's nothing. Hook tells her that she can lie to everyone else but she can't lie to him, only for her to tell him that it's fine, adding that she already asked him once to go.
The bird's owner, an oracle, reveals Emma's visions to be of the future.
She stares at the red bird, which is perched on the branch and staring back at her, while an insulted Hook says that there's no need for her to ask again and finally leaves. Emma feels terrible for how she's just treated him, but there's little time to dwell on it as the red bird takes off, and she decides to follow it. It flaps its wings all through the nighttime forest, with Emma chasing after it on foot, and eventually it perches upon another, lower-down branch which forces the savior to come to a sudden stop. There, she sees a young woman sitting, with her back to the blonde. "I see you met my pet, Emma," says the girl - the nurse who tended to Aladdin - and then she stands up and turns around as Emma asks her who she is and how she knows her name. The girl, apparently some sort of oracle, claims to know many things, such as why Emma is there: "The visions." Emma asks how the hell they're in her head and the oracle explains that they tell a story. The story of Emma's future. The savior is stunned by this revelation.
Henry believes Hades lied about Robin's obliteration.
While crouched in front of her fireplace, Regina levitates a quiver that used to contain Robin's arrows, getting excited when it magically rises up... but then it drops to the floor suddenly, and she appears somewhat devastated. "Mom?" Henry questions as he enters the room, and she turns to him, at which he asks why she's doing a locator spell. The former Queen explains, as she gets to her feet, that Roland had a gift and Zelena lost it; she then sits down on the couch as she reveals that it was Robin's feather, and Henry says that she should know better than anyone why the locator spell didn't work. He then sits down next to her, adding that it was looking for him, for Robin, and he's gone. "Obliterated," Regina utters, "That's how Hades put it. His soul... destroyed." Henry points out that that's just what Hades said and Regina asks if he doesn't believe him; the Author then assures his mother that villains say whatever they can to hurt people, but what he chooses to believe in is faith. Hope that when a hero's story is over... there's a special place for them. Regina turns to her son and considers this, although she still doesn't appear too hopeful.
True love's kiss never seems to work for these two...
Belle and Rumple continue to dance in the former's dream, moving ever so eloquently, and intimately, around the dining hall as the music plays on. Rumple soon comments on how much nicer this place is looking, before twirling his beautiful maid a couple more times, and she replies what a shame it is that he's lived there alone for so long. Smiling, the Dark One reveals that he hasn't always been alone, and finally they stop dancing as he approaches the table to tell her that there was a son, once upon a time. "A son?" Belle questions, intrigued, watching as he sits down on the table, and then she asks what happened. Rumple tells her that he left because he saw the darkness in his soul, explaining that he had a chance to change for him, but... he was too frightened to stop it. Belle appears now to sympathize with her captor, walking up to him in that beautiful gown of hers, and, as she takes a seat next to him, she wonders aloud if he would change now if he could. "For you," Rumple responds, "I would be the best man I could be." They stare soulfully into each other's eyes before finally leaning in to one another; and then - they kiss. As their lips touch, Rumple's darkness-given features begin to fade away, his golden skin going back to normal, but, suddenly, his true love pulls away, forcing him to remain a beast. A look of confusion encompasses her as she comes to the realization that the two of them have done this before, and Rumple seems joyous that her memories have returned.
Morpheus is thrilled that Belle didn't fall for her husband's tricks.
However, she has more of a negative reaction, beginning to talk about years of promises and how she can't do this again, but her husband begs her to listen. He claims that this time is different because none of this is real; it all happened a long time ago, they fell in love, got married, and now she is with child. The child was in danger, and so he explains that she put herself to sleep to keep it safe, but now that danger is gone, and he needs her to wake up. "This... is the truth," he assures. Belle stares at him blankly, eventually telling him, "But so is what I saw." The Dark One doesn't know what to make of this, and she points out all the broken promises she's had to endure, saying that she does love him and she believes that he loves her, but them being together only causes heartbreak. Rumple reminds her of the baby, at which she declares that their child will be better off waiting with her than being in debt to him, and then a familiar voice states, "I was really hoping that you'd say that." Belle and Rumple turn to see Morpheus enter the room, the hourglass in tow, and the Dark One begs him to wait because there's still sand left, meaning he still has time to wake his love. Morpheus tells Belle how sorry he is to have put her through all of this, placing the hourglass on the table, and then he says that he just had to be sure that she wouldn't fall for Rumple's lies again.
Belle is finally awoken, by her son.
"Now I can wake you up," he claims. Belle, who's highly curious about all this, wonders how he plans on waking her, and he smiles before telling her that he plans on using true love's kiss. Rumple too is curious, standing back from this strange scene, while Belle professes not to love Morpheus, pointing out that she doesn't even know him. Morpheus assures that she has known him, ever since the day he was conceived, and then he takes a step forward. Rumple is just bewildered now, as is Belle as she begs to know what's going on, but Morpheus thinks she knows, then finally addressing her as "mother". When next we see Rumple, he is back to looking like Mr. Gold, in his Storybrooke attire, and he becomes the first to vocalize that Morpheus is their son, barely able to believe it himself. Morpheus states that he will be, and explains to the Dark One that when he sprinkled that sand onto Belle he sprinkled it onto him too, meaning that this is his dreamworld as well as Belle's, "And I'm here to warn you. Do not let him destroy us like he did his last family." Rumple begs his wife not to listen to him, claiming that he can't be their son, that it's not possible, but Morpheus assures that it is, and he intends to prove it. Belle looks at him, still taken aback, while he steps forward and leans down. And then he kisses her forehead, and...
Everything Rumple loves suddenly becomes lost to him.
Belle's eyes shoot open as finally she wakes up from her sleeping curse, still lying atop the mattress in the Temple of Morpheus. Gold is pulled from her dreamworld at the same time, happy to see that she's awake, and she clutches her stomach as she manages to sit up. She utters that their son was testing her, playing the part of Morpheus to see if she'd do right by him, and Rumple points out that, like his other son, he's lost him too. Even before he's born. Belle says that if he ever let true love wake him up then maybe he wouldn't keep losing, at which he takes out the Apprentice's wand and says that they can discuss this at home. He then uses the wand to create a swirling blue portal doorway back to Storybrooke, and Belle tells him that, while she will go back, she will not be making a home with him. "Our son gave me a warning and I'm going to listen to it," she adds after finally getting to her feet, and then she walks on through the portal and back to town, abandoning her husband who watches her go and appears deeply saddened.
Emma is shown the truth...
The red bird remains perched on its branch in the Storybrooke forest while the oracle says how Emma's been seeing the future but it feels like a memory, and the savior asks her how she knows any of this. "I was once called an oracle, you'd be wise to trust me," she reveals, then explaining that what Emma saw was a tiny piece of future time. Emma sees "tiny" as the operative word, needing to see more, but the oracle warns her that knowing the future is a heavy burden; the future's always in motion, always changing, but also inevitable, at which Emma says that the visions are coming whether she wants them to or not, so they should just get this done. Using magic, the oracle then summons a staff to her hand, which has the red bird on top. Its eyes glow red too, and she instructs Emma to look. Emma does as told, staring into the bird's eyes, and then the vision comes in full force...
...of the end to her story.
The future, a misty night, Emma fighting against the unidentified foe with a sword. Their blades clash together and, as this cloaked figure kicks the savior off her feet, it becomes clear that this battle is taking place right in the middle of Storybrooke - on Main Street, in fact - and Emma does a deft roll as she hits the pavement so as to get back up in time to block her enemy's next attack with her blade. They clash together some more, with Emma still on her knees, and then we see as her loved ones come running to the scene: Snow, David, Henry and Hook, all looking incredibly worried. Managing to stand, Emma goes to swipe her sword into the cloaked villain, only for them to move out the way just in time, even doing an impressive twirl before using their own sword to knock Emma's right out of her grip. It hits the ground before vanishing into red mist, apparently due to the opponent's magic, and Emma appears utterly without hope. Even her family lack it, each of them with frightened looks on their faces and Henry being shielded from the sight by Hook. Staring at the person she's fighting, Emma says that she's not going to let them hurt her loved ones, and then her hand starts to tremble. She appears scared as it does so, and her enemy uses this distraction to their advantage, proceeding to ram their sword right into the savior's gut. She lunges forward, in pain, before...
And, like that, her fate is sealed.
The vision ends, and Emma gasps as she remains faced with the oracle. The latter says that what Emma saw was a small piece of the end of her story, addressing her as "savior". Emma, in awe of the red bird, believes that there has to be another way, only for the oracle to tell her that she can change the path to the destination... but the destination is the same. On the day she saw, in the battle she saw, she will die. Emma doesn't know how to respond to this, then growing distracted by the sound of the red bird landing on the nearby branch; when she turns back to look at the oracle, she is gone, and the savior is just left standing there with the knowledge of her own impending demise.
Hyde warns Emma about her mystery villain.
Mr. Hyde remains sitting in his cell as the door is heard once again being unlocked, and he comments, while Emma enters, that he sees the savior found his friend, asking if she was helpful. Emma claims that he knew exactly what the oracle was going to show her and so she orders that he cut the crap, then demanding to know what's coming and how she can stop it; however, Hyde wonders why he would want it to stop, at which Emma exclaims that whatever's coming, whether he helps her or not, she will defeat it. Hyde sees this as funny, getting to his feet and telling her that that's what saviors always say, and she wonders what he's talking about. "That's right, Emma, you're not the first savior I've encountered," he reveals, "Wherever there's a savior, there's a villain who brings them down. That's how the savior's story always goes." Emma is bewildered by this, and then she asks who it is. Hyde, however, is unsure of her villain's identity, suggesting that maybe they're already there or maybe they came with him. This worries the savior, and Hyde adds that he expects she'll want to help the people from the Land of Untold Stories, as saviors do, but she has to ask herself: is helping them exactly what causes her story to end? Emma doesn't know how to respond, feeling deeply conflicted.
Emma makes things right with Hook.
Two glasses rest on the bar of Granny's Diner prior to Hook picking one up and sullenly half-downing the alcoholic liquid therein. It is then that Emma wanders into the establishment, going to take a seat next to him, and he comments that he thought she needed to be alone. She says that she changed her mind, then asking if she can have the other drink, but Hook slides the half-empty one over to her, keeping the full one for himself. "Thanks," she says, and he takes note of what a better mood she appears to be in, at which she tells him that he was right; she needed some help and so she went back to Archie to figure everything out. He reminds her of her hand tremors, only for her to lie that it was just stress; he asks if she's sure, and she decides to respond by leaning over and kissing him on the cheek. "Promise," she assures, then clinking glasses with her now relaxed boyfriend.
Stepmother and stepdaughter have a nice, long chat.
Across town, Snow and Regina are sitting together on a bench outside the latter's home; Snow tells Regina how sorry she is, but that she knows it'll work out, and then she adds that the two of them had lots of ups and downs before they learned to be honest with each other. Regina says that she actually doesn't think honesty is their problem, and so Snow asks what she thinks it is, spurring the former Queen to admit that it's Robin. Feeling sorry for her friend, Snow takes Regina's hand as a sign of comfort, and eventually Regina finds herself confessing that she was an awful stepmother. Snow seems surprised by this statement, pointing out that that's in the past, but Regina says that she knows she was and now wants to know how Snow managed to maintain hope during those most terrible times. The former princess gives off a small smile, but then she turns sad as she begins to think back; she tells Regina that when her mother died, and then her father (Regina appears guilty at this), she had nothing... "And then I realized, while you - well, the Evil Queen, was trying to kill me, that the only way I could stay alive was to never give up. You taught me how to have faith. You are the one that taught me that hope is a choice." Snow's smile returns at this, in a far greater capacity, and Regina finds herself able to smile back. She then says that she thinks Hades was wrong and that Robin is at peace. Snow is tearful, as is Regina, who then explains that she was sitting there thinking about all these new people from the Land of Untold Stories and how pathetic they were for hiding in said land so that their stories wouldn't have to play out, and then she realized that that's exactly what she used to do. "I don't remember you hiding from anything," Snow states, but Regina assures that she did; her life just stopped, and the only story she heard was the one she kept telling herself. That she was the Evil Queen. Until, finally, she forgot the most important thing...
My life was never just one story. It was many stories.
As Regina speaks, we are taken over to Granny's Diner, where David, Granny, Henry, Hook and Emma are all working to welcome the residents from the Land of Untold Stories, providing them with food and shelter. As they hand out blankets, Emma and Hook smile to one another, their issues resolved.
To some, a villain. I hurt people...
Rumple is standing over the mattress in the Temple of Morpheus, the Apprentice's wand sitting there ready to take him back to Storybrooke. He appears heartbroken, the weight of all the wrong he's done now starting to bear down on him, for now he is all alone.
...in ways I can never make up for.
To others, I'm... a hero. They've seen my strength.
My ability to do the hard things even when I thought I couldn't.
Hope lands anew...
We are taken back to the bench Regina is sitting on with Snow as she adds to her statement by saying she'd like to start a new story. One where the Evil Queen doesn't get a part. And she chooses to believe that this story will have a better ending than her last. Snow smiles at this, seeming proud, and continues to hold her stepmother's hand as the two of them get to their feet and begin walking arm-in-arm. As they head inside, however, a familiar feather is seen falling behind them, eventually settling itself on the bench where they just were.
...but darkness always follows.
We are then taken to Zelena's farmhouse on the outskirts of town, seeing as the Wicked Witch herself enters with her baby girl in tow. "There you are," says a familiar voice, and Zelena finds herself stopping and heading to the source, asking if Regina is there. However, when she makes it to the kitchen, she is shocked to discover that the woman sitting at her table is not Regina, but rather the Evil Queen. "Isn't life deliciously ironic?" the Queen asks, two green appletinis laid out front of her, "All you ever wanted was a sister, and when you finally get that wish," she snaps her fingers, "It's the wrong one." The Evil Queen then cackles maniacally while Zelena expresses shock that she's alive. "You can't get rid of me that easily," the Queen assures and, when Zelena asks her what she wants, she slides one appletini forward and suggests that the two of them have a drink. To use her words, it's time for some sisterly bonding. She then lifts her own drink and smiles, but Zelena is unsure of exactly how to feel about this.
- The title card of this episode features Jafar flying on his magic carpet.
- Although credited as co-starring, Peter Marcin (Chief) and Ingrid Torrance (Nurse Ratched) are absent from this episode
- However, they are both featured in promotional stills for the episode, meaning their scenes were most likely cut for time.
- There is a mistake in the episode credits, which spell "Dennis" instead of Deniz Akdeniz.
- The title of this episode was officially confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on June 25, 2016.
- This episode marks the thirtieth writing credit for the series' co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, as well as the fifth directing credit for Eagle Egilsson.
This episode pulled in a mere 3.99 million viewers, the lowest viewing figures of any season premiere up to this point.
This episode received mixed to positive reactions from critics.
- Justin Kirkland of Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a positive review, citing the Gold/Belle storyline was the part of the episode he liked most.
- In IGN's review, reviewer Terri Schwartz took time to point out to examine why the dynamics in the episode needs improvement: "Once Upon a Time is faced with the tough challenge of keeping the same fan-favorite relationships engaging year after year in new ways that also don't irreparably change the dynamic of the show. But with the same storylines being told in different variations, it's hard not to be frustrated by seeing characters start to travel down the path they just reached the end of not long before. Hopefully the next time they find resolution to these conflicts, it will prove to have a more lasting impact and allow them to journey somewhere new."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.