Tonight we begin in Agrabah "Many Years Ago," where we see Jafar, deliciously evil, turning beggars and thieves into rats as Aladdin works the crowd, picking their pockets.
As he's counting his ill-gotten booty, Jasmine shows up, and it turns out Aladdin is an immigrant to Agrabah from somewhere in Liverpool. He sounds like a chimney sweep and I expect him to break into song and dance at any moment.
Anyway, he smiles and I wasn't aware before that he is man-candy. He didn't seem to be anything special to me in the brief glimpses, but that crooked smile and those bright eyes are really winning me over.
Jasmine asks for Aladdin's help to defeat Jafar, and in order to do that, they must steal the Diamond in the Rough, the most powerful magic in all the realm. Aladdin agrees to help her find the Cave of Wuuunders where they will be sure to find the Diamond in the Ruuuuf. I know that accent has no place in Agrabah, but damn if it isn't cute. Getting Will Scarlet flashbacks, here.
Ahead in Storybrooke now, and Emma has Archie along as she chases the red bird through the woods, hoping to find the oracle so she can ask her help in interpreting her visions. Unfortunately, the oracle is horribly dead, and Jasmine is found lurking nearby. Emma takes her into custody.
Down at the station, Jasmine admits her identity under questioning, swearing she is innocent and Emma, using that oh-so-dependable superpower, believes her. Jasmine has no idea where Aladdin is, but she does mention that he, like Emma, was a "savior."
When Archie returns to his office, the evil queen is hanging out, and she wants to know about Emma. She fesses up to killing the oracle, and she wants to know what was in Emma's visions. Archie balks, refusing to discuss his patients (when he was more than happy to share Bashful's business a few weeks ago). "I always knew you had a conscience," the Evil Queen purrs. "Don't tell me you're developing a spine to go with it." She doesn't have time for his nonsense, however, so she poofs him to Zelena's farmhouse and assumes his identity.
Evil Queen/Archie then ambushes Emma on the street and tries to have a full-on session curbside, but Emma lets him/her know that (a) There's another savior (b) His name is Aladdin and (c) She may not have to die like her vision foretell.
She heads upstairs to the apartment, where David and Snow have tried a locator spell but are having trouble. Nothing 'belonged' to Aladdin since he stole all his possessions. Evil Queen Archie bursts through the door, having followed her up and demands that Emma tell her family about her visions.
Emma reluctantly fills them in, and we hear Hook and her family immediately bitching her out as Evil Queen Archie exits and stands smiling on the stairs.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate this week's Evil Queen outfit? That high collar and those shoulder pads are a-MAH-zing, darling.
Meanwhile, Regina puts the clues together and realizes that she may be the figure under the hood that kills Emma. She decides to head for her vault.
Henry approaches Jasmine and offers to let her play the X-box, because it reminds us all that technology is an unknown thing to fairytale people, and fulfills their advertising agreement with Xbox. Jasmine lets him know that being the savior is a death sentence, and she regrets putting Aladdin on that path. Henry admits that he did the same with his mom.
And now it's time for mama Snow to pull up a chair to lecture Emma (who has the posture of a sorrowful teen down cold). Snow tells Emma she forgives her but she shouldn't keep secrets - especially not from the man she's trying to build a relationship with. She also tells Emma that she and David don't keep secrets from each other, which we all know is horsepucky. The camera cuts to Killian, who flexes his jaw and flashes his eyes and whoa nelly - you know there's going to be a discussion coming soon
Anyway, in just about ten seconds, Snow and Emma figure out that the Evil Queen was pretending to be Archie.
Back we go again to Aladdin and Jasmine, wandering through the desert as they snipe at each other. She thinks he's not living up to his potential being a thief. Aladdin thinks she's a little "juudgy" and complains that she's only worried about Jafar now that he's affecting the palace. She's fuming, but he gives her an apple and suddenly, they're half in love.
Into the Cave of Wonders we go. Aladdin aint no dummy, though - he sends Jasmine in first.
They locate the diamond soon enough, but Aladdin sees that it's booby trapped. He finds a tiny golden Abu and counterbalances the sword the diamond was resting on so that he can snatch it. Unfortunately, the diamond turns to dust and the whole place starts caving in. Aladdin manages to stop it with a wave of his hand, revealing that he is the actual "Diamond in the Rough" - and that magic makes him the Savior of Agrabah.
Aladdin's a little bit peeved that Jasmine lied to him about her motives for seeking him out. She offers him the Scarab of Agrabah, telling him it's the "hero's scarab," once given as a gift to her family from the people. She reasserts her belief in him and heads back to the palace, sure he's going to do the right thing.
Once she leaves, Jafar shows up and Aladdin cockily (or is that cockney-ly) tells him that he can't wait to defeat him. Jafar shows him the red oracle bird, which shows him the same startling visions of his future that Emma has.
"Death is the fate of all saviors," he tells him in a silky voice that makes me squirm a bit (Oh, Oded Fehr, what you do to me...). But it turns out Aladdin can alter his destiny with golden shears once owned by the fates. The shears will sever the ties to his destiny, and allow him to live, but not be a savior anymore. Jafar tops off the deal by offering Aladdin all the riches in the Cave of Wonders.
Forward to the Farmhouse in Storybrooke now, and Zelena and the Evil Queen decide go on an adventure together. They leave Archie in charge of baby Robin, putting a barrier spell over the house so that he can't escape. Zelena is just fine with leaving the baby with this man she barely knows and off they go.
They settle in for a day of pampering, because apparently nobody in town gives a rat's ass that the Evil Queen who murdered hundreds of their friends and family is getting a manicure. She and Zelena start out discussing Rumple's new hair, but the conversation soon turns into a pep talk as the Evil Queen encourages Zelena to embrace her wickedness and raise baby Robin to be beautifully wicked as well.
Back in Agrabah, Jasmine heads back to the castle to warn her father about Jafar, but Jafar arrives and it's clear that he's in control of the Sultan. He also lets her know that her 'savior' took the money and ran. He then imprisons her in a giant hourglass just as Aladdin swoops in to save the day on his magic carpet.
He breaks Jafar's staff and that makes Jafar poof hell out of Dodge. Jasmine asks why he changed his mind, Aladdin admits it was because of her, and whoosh, they're 100% in love. She tells him to keep the scarab, as a reminder of what a hero he is.
Forward again to Storybrooke, and Regina is in the vault mixing up a potion that will link light magic to light magic, so Emma only has to drink and they'll find Aladdin.
They tromp through the woods and eventually end up directly under the cemetery in a crypt. Jasmine insists on looking around and is devastated when she finds the Scarab of Agrabah on one of the skeletons.
Henry is obviously torn up to see a dead savior and Emma asks to be left alone. A brooding Hook is seen in the background before stalking off.
Henry comes back to talk to Emma, torn with guilt, claiming this situation is all his fault. If he'd never come to get her, she would never be facing death. Funny that he's worried about her facing death now when it's pretty much been in every damn storyline so far, but whatever. Emma reassures him that it's all good. They have a really beautiful talk. "I have actual magic in my life," she tells him. "I have you." And then Aladdin steps out of the shadows, alive and well.
We flash back momentarily again to Agrabah, where Jasmine tells Aladdin that Jafar was sighted in the eastern provinces. Aladdin asks her to come along so he can 'show her the world,' but instead of breaking into song, Jasmine reminds him that even though they've loved each other for a couple of hours now, she has a responsibility to the kingdom.
She asks him to return once he defeats Jafar and with a goodbye kiss, Aladdin agrees. As he's leaving, a poof of red smoke surround hims and he finds a note from Jafar, along with the golden shears in his bag. The note reminds him that he may yet find the shears useful.
We now move forward again as we see that Aladdin did, in fact, use the shears, and because of that, Agrabah fell. He migrated to The Enchanted Forest, got sucked away in the curse and he's been in Storybrooke ever since. He feels like he can't face Jasmine after having made his fateful decision.
"I was a street rat too," Emma tells him, but her life turned around when she was surrounded by people who loved and supported her. She encourages Aladdin to reconcile with Jasmine. He hands Emma the shears before he leaves. He then finds Jasmine in the park, and she's overjoyed at the sight of him. "Agrabah needs the savior," she tells him, and he replies with, "Yeah...about that..."
Over at the farmhouse, Zelena and The Evil Queen have returned and they're reveling in the wealth of wicked as Zelena turns Archie back into a cricket and sticks him in a cage.
Back at the apartment, Emma shows the others the golden shears but she says she won't use them to spare herself. She's committed to being the savior, and even if another savior should be elected, she'll refuse to concede to the new savior without a whole lot of posturing and massive civil unrest. (Sorry, couldn't resist...)
Emma apologizes to Killian for not trusting him, and he shrugs her off with a standard show of support, but his baby blue eyes are telling a whole 'nother story. They head down to the dock where Killian assures Emma that he's dropped the shears into the sea. As Emma walks away, we see that Killian, as always, will do whatever it takes to keep his Emma safe. He's got the shears, and yet another secret is born.
The Evil Queen's plan seems to be working - and too many secrets may well tear them apart.
I was going to give this one four storybooks at first because we saw yet another rushed love story, but on further reflection, I'm going for five:
Despite shoving a whole love story into ten minutes, they didn't take the easy way out. Aladdin still has a lot of 'splainin' to do, and when push came to shove in the backstory, Jasmine didn't pack up her life to be with the guy she just met that day. We're going to see more of their story, and I hope they let the love continue to build.
- I was so sure Archie was Jafar, and now I'm wavering. I have no idea why he wouldn't just blast the Evil Queen when she got in his way, unless he's got a good reason to lay low for a while yet. I'm wavering but not entirely giving the theory up.
- Karen David as Jasmine is simply magnificent. Perfect casting. And Aladdin - despite the accent - has that adorable quality of cartoon Aladdin down pat. I'm liking them both a lot and I hope we see them for a few more episodes before they return to Agrabah.
- Speaking of which - how will they get back? Oh look, an incredibly rare magic portal bean that Rumple spent centuries looking for but seem to be everywhere whenever someone needs them! Or maybe they can make a portal with a wand. Or ruby slippers. I'm sure they'll figure it out.
- We didn't see much Hook in this episode, but what we saw was seriously brooding. This is a man who is just plain fed up with Emma putting up walls between them. The dude died twice for her (and the people she loves) and this is the thanks he gets? I can't wait to see that come to a head - I hope the writers don't let it slide by.