When last we left our heroes, they were face down on a diner floor wearing strange clothes with no memory of how they got there - or in other words, any Saturday night in college. Well, for me, at least.
Anyway, we're back now and ready to start figuring out (again) how they lost their memories (again) and I'm sure there's a surprising explanation (again) and it'll all wrap up neatly by the mid-season hiatus (again).
So we open with Leroy and the dwarves in a van (Sneezy statue is strapped to the roof) rolling along to the town line. Leroy wants a volunteer to step over, and like a total a-hole, he sends Dopey because he's the handicapped dude. Regina, David and Snow show up just as Dopey steps across the line and turns into a tree.
Over to Camelot now where we meet Guinevere, resplendent in a sparkly pink princess gown. No sign of Lancelot, though, so I'm assuming he was only seen in a flashback last week and we are still the WASP capitol of the Enchanted Forest.
It seems that Camelot is having a ball and our cadre of characters are all invited. Regina mutes Zelena when she tries to tell Arthur he's got the Dark One hanging around, and that's Rebecca Mader's five minutes for this episode. Hope she caught up on her reading this week, or maybe took up a hobby.
Killian, meanwhile, is anxious to get this whole Dark One thing out of the way so he can finally maybe have sex with the woman he loves.
He's not thrilled about going to a ball.
"I'm not going to go dark in one night," Emma tells him, and he reluctantly agrees to attend.
Arthur leads the group to Merlin - who, it turns out, is stuck inside a tree. David tells Arthur that they seek Merlin because the Dark One is threatening their home. Arthur sympathizes, having heard of the Dark One, but they'll need a savior to get Merlin out of the tree. Regina steps forward and Emma is visibly uncomfortable with not being the savior anymore.
Over to present day and Hook is asking Belle why true love's kiss didn't work between her and Rumple when he was the Dark One. Belle relates the story of how Rumple freaked out and changed back, and then she tells him that it's far easier to hate a dark one than to love one. Awww. Right in the feels.
Meanwhile, Henry summons Emma, apologizing for failing her, and she insists that everyone else did, but not him (Hmmmm....possible clue? Or just mom-bias?) Then Emma alerts Regina that something big is coming and Storybrooke is going to need a savior. "Too bad there isn't one," she goads, as Regina and Henry walk away.
Leroy and Happy are pondering the best way to help Dopey when suddenly Arthur and his knights show up, wondering how the hell they got there. Snow, David and Regina explain that they lied to Arthur about the Dark One, and confess that it's Emma. David explains his plan to rescue Emma and Arthur seems less than enthused. Regina thinks that there's more coming than Arthur - he can't be what Emma warned her about.
Back to the Enchanted Forest again and Regina shows up, waving the dagger around and forcing Emma to listen as she explains that she had to usurp Emma's savior position to keep Emma from using her dark magic (that seems to be the plan here - keep Emma away from dark magic and she won't go dark). Regina vows that she is going to find a way to get Merlin out of the tree. Meanwhile, Emma is bristling a bit at Regina's power over her with the dagger, even as she thanks her for her intervention.
Forward to Storybrooke, where David and Robin are organizing relief efforts for the good people of Camelot who've been sucked up in the curse. God forbid we find them some housing - well just stuff 'em into the forest alongside the Merry Men.
Regina's doubting herself as the savior, and Robin won't hear of it. But look! In the sky! It's moderately bad CGI! Some dark tree-like tentacle thing shows up and attacks Robin, carrying him off.
Across town, Killian summons Emma and she poofs them away to her new house. This house comes complete with a basement and a padlocked door that of course gets Killian's attention.
Emma's being deliciously flirty, and Killian tries true love's kiss, but it doesn't work.
"Tell me what happened," he begs and she replies "I wish I could." Oh, come on...you know that means something. She's deliberately keeping things back and all is not as it appears.
She invites him to stay in a very flirty way and he turns her down. "This may be who you think you are, but this isn't who I am," he tells her. That's right, Killian. Don't stick your d**k in crazy. And all that dark isn't exactly great for the disposition.
Off in the forest, Regina poofs after the tree harpy thing but her dark magic doesn't help her. The thing gets away. Snow wants Regina to get checked out because her nose is bleeding and Regina takes her concern as a sign that she has no faith in her. I have no idea why.
Flashback to Camelot again, and one of Arthur's knights arrives with a gift for the savior, presenting Regina with a necklace bearing a purple crystal.
She puts it on immediately, not even the least bit suspicious. But we are. Because we are smarter than that whole damn town, apparently.
Snow and David are going to the ball and Regina is balking because she doesn't know how to dance and people aren't going to believe in her as a savior if she doesn't know how to dance.
And again, I have no idea why. Dancing is a prerequisite to saviorhood? Who knew?
So she poofs into an amazing cleavage-presenting dress.
Snow encourages something a little foofier, Regina poofs up a bona-fide princess gown that covers her wicked woobers and David gallantly steps in to show her how to dance.
Okay, I'm calling BULLSHIT in big, shouty caps.
Regina was raised as royalty, by a mother who wanted her to marry royalty. There is no freaking way Cora would not have her schooled in every sort of royal obligation, including dancing. Please.
As Regina's dancing, the knight who gave her the necklace uses his floo powder and is watching through the fireplace. Freaky.
Later we watch as Snow is helping Emma get ready and we have a lovely mother daughter moment before they're announced at the ball. AND WHO THE F**K IS LADY MARY MARGARET? She's a freaking Queen back in her own realm (or at the very least, a princess, since the show for some reason doesn't want to call her a queen even though she's clearly ascended to the throne after her father). And why Mary Margaret? Wouldn't she be Queen Snow White or Princess Snow White? It's just effed up.
And it's even more effed up that Regina doesn't even get a name. She's just announced as "The Savior." Great. No pressure.
Killian looks amazing and they've dressed him all up but left Robin in his dusty day clothes for some reason. Like he's the poor step-cousin or something.
Forward to present day and Belle has found out that the creature that took Robin was a Fury, sent to drag someone to the underworld because they didn't pay the price for magic. In order to save Robin someone has to give their life for him before the portal opens at the moon's zenith.
Flashback to the ball again, where Belle is hauling around that magical flower, Leroy is scoping the room for hot dwarf chicks, and Henry's watching a girl from across the room. Gramps comes over to give him a little coaching about the fairer sex, shoves some wine in his hands and tells Henry to go sauce the chick up.
Henry is delightfully awkward as he digs out his iPod as he tells the girl he saved the world last season. Then he switches the iPod on to the kind of music Disney thinks kids listen to nowadays (and my teen daughter made a face I've only ever associated with broccoli before as it played).
This makes a segue to put some pop music into the ball scene and we try to seem so very trendy by morphing old and new. The creepy fire-watching knight cuts in to dance with Regina under Robin's not so happy eye. The knight relates a story about Regina burning his village to the ground and tells her he knows who she is. He draws his sword on her and Robin takes him on. David ends it all by running the knight through, but Robin's been stabbed and is not looking too good.
Forward to Storybrooke. Regina goes to Emma's house wanting to talk. She's still not feeling like the savior, and she takes a good long look at Emma and proclaims, "Good you is still in there."
Then she rails at Emma for bringing the Fury to town, but Emma lets her know that Regina is the one who summoned the fury by no paying the price in Camelot.
And back we go. It turns out the sword Robin was struck with was enchanted to kill Regina, so she can't use her magic to heal him.
Regina pulls out the Dark One dagger and asks Emma to heal Robin with dark magic, over Killian's objections. Dark Rumple shows up to remind Emma that Regina has to pay a price, but Emma refuses to collect it. And she's arguing with Dark Rumple, while everyone else is looking on like this:
Ahead to Storybrooke, and the Fury lays Robin down to await the boat that will take him to the underworld. So now Storybrooke resides on the banks of the river Styx. Who knew?
Anyway, Regina jumps in to give her life for Robin's, and Snow, David, Leroy and Arthur jump in there like Guardians of the Galaxy. The boatman backs off, and Robin's fine, so I guess it sucked a little life out of each of them or something. Maybe they'll all die at sixty one instead of eighty now or whatever. It's not terribly clear, but hey, it worked.
Over at Granny's, Killian is chugging some rum and Belle shows up to commiserate with him. He vows to spend a century trying to save the woman he loves.
I can't. I just....I can't.
Henry's new girlfriend, Violet has made the hop to Storybrooke, and he shows her how to play the jukebox at Granny's. Was there a jukebox at Granny's? Well, there is now, and it plays that happy pop theme that he played for her at the ball and they get reintroduced with a feeling of deja vu.
David tells Mary Margaret not to lose hope - they're going to get Emma back. Emma, meantime, watches from the street.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Arthur apologizes for Sir Percival trying to kill Regina. She cops to being the formerly evil Queen and Arthur shrugs it off and decides to let bygones be bygones.
Then we see him at the round table, and Guinevere confesses that she's frightened of these freaky new people. Arthur is after the Dark One dagger, determined to make Excalibur whole again. And for some reason, these two just seem more than a little shady to me.
Forward to Emma's place in Storybrooke, and she's caressing the dagger when Dark Rumple shows up to chat. He directs her down to the padlocked cellar, where she's been hiding Excalibur, still encased in rock. Dark Rumple explains that as long as the Dark One has existed, one thing has always held them back, the love of family, friends, and ungodly handsome pirates significant others.
Only Emma can make Excalibur whole again and then use it to snuff out the light forever. We see her grasp the hilt of the sword, only to be blasted off her feet. Rumple gleefully informs her that if she wants that sword, she's gonna have to pay...(dun dun dun...) the price. Oh, and Regina finally got around to changing Sneezy back.
Well. That was just one big clusterf**k of a show now, wasn't it? I'm giving it three dark daggers out of five.
I'm loving tortured Killian and his unruly hair, loving the growing dynamic between him and Belle, loving the tension between him and Emma, loving Regina's self-doubt and still wondering where they're going with all of this, but....I can't say I'm riveted. There was a lot going on, but I didn't have a lot of interest in most of it, to be honest. I'm not giving up, but God, I hope next week is better.