Tonight's story begins back in the Enchanted Forest with a tale of two babies. Snow and Charming have tracked a unicorn through the woods, because a mere touch of it's horn will show them what their unborn child will be like.
Unfortunately, they see two very different kids. Charming sees a sweet and cuddly baby, but Snow sees evil teen Emma, who glares at her and rips her heart out. As the mother of a hormonal thirteen year old girl, I have no idea why this scenario is so startling. Really, I don't.
Snow is horribly freaked out by this, and Charming begs her to tell him what's wrong. She replies that "Saying it out loud will make it too real." Who the hell says lines like that in real life? Nobody, that's who. Writers throw stuff like that in when they don't want to repeat something in two consecutive scenes, but it sounds like crap.
The Charmings run into a peddler and offer him a flask of brandy that's nice and "nutmeggy." Huh? The peddler tells them that Maleficent has turned into a dragon and laid an egg, scorching the earth all around it. They're better off avoiding the area and going through the infinite forest instead. Snow's eyes widen and she remarks, "The infinite forest? We could get lost for days."
Were the writers busy playing Warcraft in the writing room or something? Some of these lines....sheesh.
The peddler tells the Charmings to go to the cottage in the middle of the forest and talk to the kindly old man, who will give them directions. When they get there, we see that this kindly old man also happens to be The Apprentice, and he knows they're freaked out about their baby.
Zipping forward to Storybrooke, we learn that something's wrong with August and he can't wake up. Blue, the condescending twat, says he's been changed my magic many times. She doesn't do anything for him, either. Guess he just has to sleep it off.
Regina is there and she tells the group that Gold is after the page with the door on it, and she's going to have to give him something or he'll know she's a double agent.
Whoa! Emma whips up a forged page from the book with magic, and Regina takes a picture of it with her cellphone from 1995, hoping that'll hold the baddies off for awhile.
Killian then shows up to fill Emma in on Gold's plan to turn her dark. Henry raises his brows and remarks that you can't just "unsavior" the savior, and the writers get another tick mark in the "Oh God, did they really just say that?" column.
Emma reassures them all that she's firmly in control of her own damn life and it's choices, but Killian warns her that darkness can creep up on you. Of course, he does this with a wealth of self-loathing (Colin O'Donoghue is so very good at self-loathing), and Emma rushes over to comfort him by pressing her lips and body to his.
Cue her parents looking uncomfortable. And they whisper all about it and their horrible secret less than four feet from her. I guess the writers couldn't figure out a way to write the Charmings out of the room. What - the baby couldn't cry or something?
Speaking of the baby - where the hell is Neal? He hasn't been around all episode. Did he just go away?
Anyway, the writers want us to think that kissing Kilian would deaden all other senses, and really, I don't suppose it's that far-fetched.
Meanwhile, back at the cabin in the woods, Regina shows up and Cruella sneers, "I've aged a decade waiting for you." And Regina wins line of the night with the only sarcastic retort they wrote for her:
"You certainly look like it."
I know, it's not much. It was either that or a later line that Cruella delivers about using puppies as mittens, but that was delivered with entirely too little snark. There wasn't much to work with this episode.
Anyway, Gold takes a look at the crappy cellphone photo of the magic door and can instantly tell that a bad cellphone photo equals powerful magic and the author is trapped in the book. And how can he tell this? Because magic! And the writers don't want to repeat that discovery scene again!
Across town, Killian is comforting Emma on her couch (god forbid it be in a bed), and lets his jealousy flag fly over "The wooden man-child." a.k.a. August. Aww, I love jealous Killian. And angry Killian. And bored Killian. And anything Killian. Emma tells him that August is her BFF, and also that she had no friends until she met August, completely discounting season one Mary Margaret. Nice.
They slump over because Maleficent puts a sleeping spell on the town, but Snow, David and Henry are immune, due to their already having been under a sleeping curse, and the writer's need for them to be advancing the plot while everyone else is out of the way. Which, of course, means Aurora ought to be running around, shrieking like mad because her freaking baby is now in a magical sleep and she''s not, but we didn't need her this week, so we just won't mention her.
Maleficent and Gold go off alone and Mal finally admits that Cruella and Ursula are props. She strikes a new deal with Gold - she'll help him get that page and in return, he tells her what those heroes did to her baby.
Snow and David realize the town is under a curse and rush to find Emma, but get interrupted by a call from Henry, who is hiding out at the author's mansion with the book. They know that makes him a target and decide to race to his rescue. David thinks they should destroy the page. That way the author would never get free and turn Emma dark. Meanwhile, Gold realizes that Henry would have been immune to the sleep spell and probably has the book.
Regina cautions them all that "No one goes near Henry but me. If you have a problem with that, take it up with one of my fireballs." Ugh. Really writers? Really?
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Snow tells the unknown Apprentice all the stuff she wouldn't tell her beloved husband about their evil kid, and she begs him for a way to ensure her child's goodness. To banish the potential for darkness they'll have to use magic, and that comes with a price (DUH). Another living vessel must absorb the darkness, and it must also be a blank slate. In other words, another baby.
He cautions them to think hard about it because once it's done it can't be reversed. Snow and Charming don't feel right about doing this to a human baby, but evil-ing up a dragon egg wouldn't be a big deal, right? Right? They decide they're going to grab Maleficent's baby.
Flashing forward to present day at the author's mansion, Henry is looking at the magical door page when a light shines out of the keyhole on the paper, illuminating a nearby desk drawer that holds a key. He manages to grab it before Regina, with Cruella and Mal on her heels, burst in demanding the page.
Henry balks, and Regina breaks out the dreaded triple name! Henry DANIEL Mills! (My son would call that his 'trouble' name). Awww. His middle name is Daniel. *Sniff* He hands over the fake pic and off they go.
Back to the Enchanted Forest again, where we see Ursula and Cruella (who appear to be guarding the egg) hit the dirt with magic sleeping powder that came from the plot convenience store. The Charmings find the egg - and a silver rattle - and it turns out the nest is actually Maleficent herself. (If they only had a wand and a broom, they could easily get away and win the tri-wizard tournament!).
Maleficent points out that they're horrible people for threatening a child and she begs Snow for mercy "mother to mother". They run off with the egg and aren't pursued despite the fact that she's an incredibly powerful sorceress, can turn into a dragon (and turn them to toast), and has no qualms about killing anyone.
Back at his cottage, the apprentice assures them this will work. He puts the spell on the egg, and oops! Did he forget to mention that he has to send the egg away? The Charmings are suddenly feeling some remorse now that they've seen that the egg holds a baby - but it's too late. A portal opens, sucking the baby, Ursula and Cruella away to another world.
The Apprentice assures them that their child will now be pure of intent and heroic of spirit. Yeah, forget nurturing or guidance, parents. This is all you need.
Moving forward to Storybrooke, Henry shows his grandparents the key and David lies his lying face off, screaming at Henry to just go and let them deal with letting the author out. Way to Grandparent, David. Snow is finally feeling a smidge o' remorse about all her untruths - oh, and the baby thing. Yeah, that too...
And now it's time for Gold to do some exposition, so he finds a sleeping Belle and he starts monologuing.
|"He started monologuing! He actually started monologuing!"|
He tells her the price of magic is taking its toll on him. He has to change the rules and he has to do it quickly. He vows to come back for her if he can. Wait? Is Gold....dying? But he can't die as long as there's a dagger. Not unless we're suddenly inventing some new counter-continuity magic rule, but the writers would never do that.
He rejoins the others, Regina hands him the faux page and Gold immediately recognizes the page as a fake. Mal knocks Regina on her ass with a wave of her hand. Cruella wants to kill Regina, but Gold tells her that Regina's going to help them - she just doesn't know it yet. He's got something that'll make Regina do his bidding forever.
Well, that sounds slightly ominous. Which is a good thing, because this episode can definitely use some ominous.
David suggests to Snow once again that they burn the page and lie about it to Henry. Snow refuses because she finally realizes it would be a dick move to deny Regina her happy ending. Heroes do what's right, not what's easy. She says they have to tell Emma the truth.
Emma is understandably upset to know that her parents have been lying to her. As usual, she takes off to be upset about it in a dramatic fashion elsewhere instead of - I don't know - talking it through. Killian finds her and tells her that August is now awake.
In our final flashback, Snow is all pissed off about the unicorn mobile Cinderella sent over for the baby's nursery. She's overcome with remorse. They were brave but they were selfish. She doesn't feel like they're heroes anymore.
Charming suggests that they work at redeeming themselves, and raising their child to be the best lil' hero they can make her to be. Snow decides the unicorns will remind them of how easily they can be led astray, and they're all back to happy again.
And in Storybrooke, Maleficent goes into Regina's vault with Gold, demanding that he tell her where her baby is. Gold refuses to honor the deal, since she didn't bring him the real page. She reminds him that she's in a world of pain. He replies with an actual well-crafted line:
"Pain fades unless you feed it. This could be the meal you really don't want."
She hands Gold the rattle, and he shows her the baby's fate: Her child has been adopted in our world. And, of course, the baby's name is Lily. Maleficent is determined to find her.
Over at the apartment, Emma rushes to August's side. August lets her know that there have been many authors over time and this author is just the last. The job has gone back eons, through thousands of men and women who were amazingly gifted at sharing stories of people's lives and fantastical things. Aw, he even mentions Walt.
The writers masturbate all over the soliloquy, and finally it winds down with August explaining that this particular author found a way to manipulate the stories, to force reality to follow what he wrote. Because he abused that, the sorcerer and apprentice trapped him in the book.
Emma decides she wants some answers. She puts the key in the book and releases him, and we realize it's the peddler, when he just has to pull out a flask of brandy that's all nut-meggy that he got from a nice young couple on the road. Really writers?
Anyway, he throws a curtain over Emma and makes his escape.
I'm giving this one two hooks out of five.
All I've got to say about this one is, "Meh." Gold and the baddies bored me, The Charmings were irritating, not enough Hook and Emma, and the writers were phoning it in.