This recap went up a little late because I had to watch that trainwreck of a debate. I think it was brilliant airing it right after this show. I will never complain about plot holes or convoluted timelines ever again.
Anyway....we begin tonight by flying over (or should I say 'under') the cuckoo's nest, down into the basement of Storybrooke's hospital, where Regina hopes to find a way to Hyde's cold, dark heart with some pasta, cheese and red pepper flake.
Alas, her evil self has already beaten her to it, and Hyde demands to be released if they want any information from him. Regina fumes, because she's forever one step behind her evil self.
Now we go to Granny's, where Henry shows up with the unofficial census of Untold Story visitors when in walks Ashley (a.k.a. Cinderella) with her toddler daughter, Alexandra. Henry spies someone new in Mennonite wear and while he's interviewing, Emma watches Hook be SOFA KING adorable with little Alexandra.
I didn't catch the next few lines of dialogue over the sound of ovaries exploding all across America. I expect I'll hear booming sounds as the episode airs around the world. Holy Freaking-A, I am undone.
Flashback to the Enchanted Forest and we see Ella dressed in rags, standing with her step-family as the invitation for the royal ball arrives. Ella's stepsister, Clorinda gets all uppity at the messenger as they all ooh and aah over the invitation.
Ella asks if she can go to the ball wearing her mother's pale pink wedding gown, which the stepmother promptly directs Clorinda to burn. Ella drags it out of the fire, singed beyond repair as her stepsister mocks her with her new nickname: Cinderella.
Little Gus the mouse shows up with a key that once belonged to Ella's mother. It supposedly turns any door into a portal to the Land of Untold Stories, but Ella puts it away because she doesn't believe in magic.
Since when are the dwarves slinging magic now? Wasn't the guy a tree? And where the hell is he getting a Master's Degree? Springfield U? He can't be out in the real world without money and a social security number, after all. Anyway, Archie kicks Leroy out and Emma confesses that she's jealous of happy people because she's happy now but she's going to die anyway when her magic fails her. Archie encourages her to live her life, regardless of what she thinks is coming.
As Emma's leaving the office, Ashley's hubby Thomas shows up to tell Emma that Ashley's got a gun and she's going after the stepsister - who was in Henry's census book - 'before it's too late' (or so her note reads). Emma poofs up Ashley's sneaker to track her with and off they go to find her.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jekyll is helping Regina find out how it is that the EQ is still alive, by setting up a lab in the middle of the woods by the broken down dirigible. He's having a hard time getting anything to work. While he runs back into the dirigible to search for more materials to work with, Snow waxes nostalgic for her cursed days as a teacher.
"Is this our life now?" she asks David. "Defeat and Repeat?"
Across town, Hook is giving Henry fencing lessons so Henry can help her find Ashley. I have no idea why he'd need a five minute fencing lesson for that but it's another adorable Killian scene so that's fine by me.
Come on now...how cute are they??
Flashback now to Ella at the ball, and Gus as a person (Yay! Gus!) is in tow until he spies the cheese platter. Ella bumps into Snow, who is nothing but kind and gracious, despite Ella's confession that she's a nobody. Ella makes eye contact with Thomas, and the cameraman crawls under her skirt to get a shot of her shoes, which Thomas is all impressed by. Careful Ella - if he's gushing over your shoes he might not be playing on the right team. Just sayin'.
Ella and Thomas share a dance, and he excuses himself to take care of "a quick piece of business." Ella spies Clorinda across the room and Thomas gives the stepsister a rose as her stepmother sidles up to tell Ella they're all laughing at her in her 'garish blue dress'. Ella takes off running, leaving the iconic shoe behind.
Later we see Ella studying her slipper as Gus once again presents the key to the Land of Untold Stories. She uses the key on a wardrobe (nice Narnia reference), and sure enough, it opens a portal. Her step-sister barges in to tell her that the Prince is looking for her because he's in love with Ella, and she can't leave. Then Clorinda confesses that she's in love with the low-born footman, who's name is Jacob, against her mother's wishes. She apologizes for being so horrible to her stepsister and Ella offers to help her and Jacob escape to the Land of Untold Stories.
Forward to Storybrooke now and Emma has found Ella, who is determined to help Clorinda, not hurt her. Ella tells Emma that all of her happiness is a lie and she has to handle this on her own. She goes running off, gun in hand.
Killian yells at Emma to use her magic to stop her (even though he could easily run the girl down on foot) but Emma's hand is shaking again - she can't do it.
And into this scene poofs the Evil Queen, who takes a motherly moment to correct Henry's posture.
She feels Regina never had her happy ending because she was never strong enough to ensure it for herself. Then she tells Emma that Cinderella's story won't end well, and once Emma's not able to help people, everyone's happy ending falls apart. Then she poofs Emma, Killian and Henry to the road on the edge of town to ensure they don't interfere.
Next we segue to a thirty second scene between Regina and Zelena that pretty much exists only to highlight the rattle that the Evil Queen gave Zelena.
Something is definitely up with that rattle. Anything from Cora has got to have some magical taint to it. .
On the other side of town, David shows up in Gold's shop with his father's coin, and he wants to know where it came from. He asks Rumple for a deal. "How badly do you want the deal?" Rumple asks ominously.
Next we see Belle reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting" on the Jolly Roger as David shows up. He bears a gift:
On the outskirts of town, Hook and Henry remind Emma that it used to be her job to, you know, find people and she can find Ashley without magic. They have a cute exchange about the proper pronunciation of Clorinda's name while Henry pulls up her story from the book of the Untold.
This, of course, sends us into another flashback, where we see Ella's stepmother holding the glass shoe hostage in order to find out where Clorinda has gone. Ella (who is clearly good friend material for Snow) gives up the secret immediately, but the stepmother smashes the shoe anyway and locks Ella in her room for good measure.
A short time later, Snow arrives with Prince Thomas, having tracked Ella there (in a ballgown, no less!). Gus leads her to the key that opens the door Ella is locked behind. Thomas drops to his knee with an immediate proposal because they fell in love in ten minutes like any story book character would.
Ella's all for starting her new life but she says she has to fix something first. She rushes to aid Clorinda, but her stepmother attacks the footman. Clorinda is furious that Ella not only gave up her secret, but she's rubbing that big 'ol engagement ring in her face to boot.
Stepmom is also furious and drags Clorinda into the land of Untold Stories with her.
Ahead in Storybrooke, Ashley finds Clorinda wounded and hiding out in a barn. She swears to her stepsister she'll fix their story but stupidly puts down the gun, just in time for Stepmom to pick it up because Clorinda was faking her out.
Ella tells Clorinda that Jacob the footman is alive and the pumpkin farmer of Storybrooke (what? No Peter Pumpkin Eater references?). Stepmom decides not to shoot Ashley and stabs her instead just as Emma arrives. Emma tries to heal her, but is having trouble channeling the magic. Henry tells her he believes in her and she's finally able to save Ashley's life.
Then everybody has a group hug because nobody's dead. Feel the love, people. Feel the love.
On the other side of town, Regina, Snow and Jekyll pull up to a garage full of chemistry supplies owned by...Dr. Whale (!), who is now embracing his real name of Fronkenschteen.
Frankenstein/Whale warns them: "Stay clear of the refrigerator - it's not food in there..." Jekyll knows Frankenstein's work and is thrilled to be sharing a lab with him. Snow wants to recruit them both as science teachers for the school, instead of letting Whale be, oh, I don't know...the only damn doctor in town.
Now over to Storybrooke park, where Emma and Killian are having a picnic with fried chicken on paper plates, and oh, I just love it when they do normal stuff. Then out of the blue, Emma asks Killian to move in with her, all while playing with his hair.
Killian wholeheartedly agrees to hang his leather jacket in the closet next to hers, and they seal the deal with a kiss.
Back at the loft apartment, David tells Snow about the intel Rumple gave him on the coin: It turns out a shepherd found it in the wreckage of a cart. David's father wasn't drunk - he'd been stabbed. Snow tells him to let it go, forsake his vengeance on his father's murderer so she can teach school and have a nice, normal life for a change. She reminds him that their son (whom they abandoned and whom no one has seen this season) needs him.
David actually remembers his son's name, and agrees that Neal is important. He tells Snow he's going to burn the paper Rumple gave him, but of course, he doesn't do it.
And as night falls on the Jolly Roger, Belle plays Rumple's mix tape, which is a bedtime story/poem recorded for their unborn son. We see Rumple walking the dock, as Bobby Carlyle's Scottish brogue intones the stanzas of the poem (many thanks to Redditor malarkay79 for cluing me into the poem. It's "Sleep Well" by Murdoch Maclean).
We end with Enchanted Queen fuming in front of Hyde, who finally convinces her to free him so that he can help her. They leave his cell arm in arm.
I'm giving this one five storybooks out of five - I'm so glad to see them revisiting old characters along with the new, and Ooooooooooooooh the Captain Swan feels in this episode! Merciful heavens, I need a fuzzy blanky and cold shower.
And now for this week's talking points.
- I remain absolutely convinced that Archie isn't Archie, even though he was much warmer and more Archie-sounding tonight. Someone on Reddit pointed out last week that Archie shared something from his session with Bashful - that's completely against his ethical code! And this week he threw Leroy out of his office and gave Emma his session. Again, Archie is a consummate professional, and in the past, he's asked other characters to come back because he's in session with someone. This is not Archie.
- The rattle. It's bad ju-ju. You know it is.
- We've gone from Season 4 where Snow wanted to reclaim her inner badass, to Snow becoming Season 3B Emma who wants a nice, normal life in Boringville. I get the longing for peace (god knows they all deserve it) but it's just a weird juxtaposition when she's spent some time trying to get back to the fighter she used to be.
- How about that teaser for next week? They took my final point right out of my mouth: What if Hyde isn't the evil one? He says as much in the teaser, and I've been wondering that since last week. Things aren't adding up, and it looks like we'll get a little more of the real story next week. And probably another 5 seconds of Aladdin and Jasmin in a teaser at the end.