Tonight we begin with Snow and David sleeping peacefully in bed, only to have Snow suddenly awaken in the forest as the guest of the Evil Queen.
"Sleeping Snow is my favorite Snow," Queenie coos. She wants Snow and David's hearts, but Snow lets her know Regina has put a protection spell on them. The Evil Queen then hands Snow a bottle with a potion in it, telling her that Snow and David have 12 hours to figure out what it is and voluntarily surrender their hearts or the whole town will suffer the consequences.
Over to Zelena's house now, where Regina makes a forced show of nicety and gloats over her latest evil plan. She also coins my new favorite alternate moniker: "Prince Farming."
Zelena's asking all the plot progressing questions: "Is The Dark One helping you? What did you give and what did he take?" There's some definite veiled tension here, and maybe a little bit more. Hmmmm.
Now we're flashing back to the Enchanted Forest, where Bandit Snow is selling an heirloom brooch pin to a very astute man, who recognizes the family that heirloom came from. Snow hastily beats a retreat, hoping the man didn't positively ID her.
Once she's made it to the woods, Blue is waiting to bitch her out for only getting 3 coppers for the brooch. Eff you, Blue. Suddenly, a crazy man lobs an axe at her.
Snow manages to fling it back, but it's clearly a rubber axe as it just bounces off his arm. Then she and Blue each pick up an axe and the guy takes off running. It turns out he's the infamous Woodcutter - a bounty hunter who specializes in hunting down werewolves. "The forest is no place for me!" Snow says, and she's going to leave now that she has enough money.
Blue encourages Snow to believe in herself because her people love her. "Love doesn't hold its value," Snow says, preferring to rely on cold, hard cash to get her where she wants to go - which happens to be a port called Longborne.
Now we're at the farm with David (short-hair David, not Led Zeppelin David), and Ruth! Oh, I love Ruth, the world's greatest mother-in-law. We get to meet Wilby the tracking dog (and that's a great nod to Disney, naming him Wilby) who has been out looking for a lost lamb. Ruth tells David that it's time to sell the farm - though she's obviously heartbroken by it. David reluctantly heads off to the port of Longborne, to see the job done.
Forward now to Storybrooke, where the main cast is gathered, and they're all trying to discover what's in the bottle.
Regina finally figures it out when she pours a single drop on a nearby tree and it dies instantly. "It's water," she tells them, and Killian jibes, "Never trust the stuff - rum would never do that," thereby reinforcing the fallacy that he never bathes. I think the writers need to work in an extended bathing scene to dispel this awful rumor.
For the good of the show, of course.
It turns out this water is from the River of Lost Souls, and the Evil Queen can destroy the whole town with it. Snow is angsting over it, of course. I swear Snow's hair keeps getting shorter and shorter and I am not liking it. It makes her face look round and pudgy. The haircut (and a lot of the wardrobe) just reinforces her general frumpiness - which is a real shame because Ginny Goodwin is still a hot woman, even with some mom pounds on her.
The group calls Belle in for help with the death water, but she hasn't had any luck finding anything in her books about how to counteract it. Blue is equally unable to counter it, but she says there's a way to imprison the Evil Queen with magic taken from a sapling created by the first spark of true love. Did you know that a sapling is a baby tree? David explained that for us. He's such a helpful boy. Anyway, Blue can use a locator spell on it, but needs a distraction for Rumple and the Evil Queen so they don't see it.
Regina has just the diversion, since her counterpart is hot for teacher. "There was always a certain amount of chemistry" between her and Rumple, she tells them reluctantly. Emma and Hook look like somebody's holding a turd under their nose, and those of us at home look kinda like this:
Next we see Zelena barging into Gold's shop, breathing fire as she interrupts the Evil Queen sucking Rumple's face off.
Ruh-Roh, Zelena's going green again, and it turns out Regina wrote the note that sent Zelena to discover the two evil Friends With Benefits.
Sorry, but this is just so very, very skeevy. Did the writers honestly think we thought these two had chemistry? Or will have it? They're both incredibly enigmatic actors and if they appeared together on any other show that might be true, but come on! He banged her mother! It's gross! It's just gross!!
And with that rancid taste in the back of our throats, we flash back to the Enchanted Forest again, where Wilby leads David to a peddler named Gabriel who offers him a ride to the port. As Gabriel closes up his cart, we see the woodcutter outfit inside it.
A short time a later, Gabriel roofies David so that he can take Wilby and use him to track Snow White, which he does easily. Snow takes off running but The Woodcutter corners her, and for that Snow spits in his face with all the malice of a bewildered toddler. She seriously needs some Jack Dawson spitting lessons. She's not especially good at expectorating.
Great reference. Go me.
And now we head down to Regina's vault, where Emma is pre-emptively packing away all the dark magical stuff that the Evil Queen might try to get her hands on. I was going to quote all the snappy Killian lines, and then all the heartfelt Killian lines, but oh, I am a pile of oozing mush after this scene. I can't even. I mean, I seriously can't even. I have been reduced to equal parts teenage girl and elderly verklempt woman. Oh, God, it's beautiful. Just watch:
And just in case somebody pulls the video, here are a few of gratuitous screen grabs:
"You can overcome anything."
And the hand stops shaking with his belief in her. . .
And that is how a gentleman pirate gives a pep talk
Take a moment. I know I need one.
Back again in the Enchanted Forest, Wilby wakes up David, who is grateful to find himself unraped by a marauding stranger. He looks for Gabriel and finds the cart, with Snow inside. David is determined to free her. Just as he's bashing the lock open with a rock, the Woodcutter shows up again.
Never brink a rock to an axe fight, David. Luckily for him, Snow grabs the Woodcutter's axe through a hole in the door and David manages to kill him. Before he can free her, she tells him if he sees her face, there will be a target on his back. He hands her the key through the hole, agreeing to let her free herself once he leaves, but first they chat a few moments.
David tells her he's going to sell his mother's farm and Snow is determined to reward him for his help. She gives him all her money (thereby ensuring that she'll need to be robbing a carriage later). She also tells him that knowing he believes in her makes her feel not so alone, and with that pronouncement, a magical spark falls and the sapling is born.
Forward to the woods of Storybrooke, where Snow and David are thrilled to be on an adventure together again. Regina finds a trap door and down they go, into a hole in the ground. They find the sapling and as Snow and David grip it, all their past adventures flash before their eyes. "It shows you your own true love," Snow remarks, to which David replies, "As if we needed reminding. . ."
*sigh* That's the Charming and Snow we know and love.
Unfortunately, it's a little too late. The Evil Queen shows up and takes the sapling, which she breaks and turns it to dust. She again demands their hearts, and David reminds her that they still have time left before their deadline.
"Read a book," the Queen suggests magnanimously, "Pick a flower, rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Snow is wondering about something else she saw when she grabbed the sapling, as David tells her that Granny says Neal is doing fine. See? He's got a babysitter this week. It's all good.
Snow and David continue to fret about losing their hearts. "If only we had saved the sapling - did you feel the power of it?" David asks. Snow says that knowing David believes in her means she's not alone - the very words she gave David through the door of that wagon all those years ago. They both realize now that he was the one who freed her from the woodcutter.
Across town the Evil Queen is addressing everyone at the cemetery. Zelena sidles up and asks Belle if she'd like to know what The Evil Queen and Rumple are up to.
Much to Emma's dismay, Snow and David show up, determined to 'do the right thing'. "That's where our paths lead," Snow tells Emma, "always to each other and back to you." At Snow's request, Regina lifts the protection spell and the Evil Queen makes her grab. She holds the halves of their common heart in her hands a moment and then returns them to their chests, telling Snow that she wants her to experience the pain of being alone. Snow falls under a sleeping curse, and then the Evil Queen poofs her away. "You say you'll always find her?" she says ominously to David. "Well, start looking shepherd, and lets see what happens when you do."
Over at Gold's, Belle shows up as Rumple looks at the ultrasound picture of his son. It seems Zelena told her everything she wanted to know about Rumple and his dealings with The Evil Queen - including the fact that he plans to use the Shears of Destiny to cut his son off from his future. He assures her that what he's doing is driven by love for his child, but Belle can't forgive him for turning his back the good man he could be. "You want your son's love?" she asks. "Don't take it - be worthy of it."
But, as always, Rumple is afraid to fail. She tells him he's too weak to be good, and as she leaves we see a very pissed-off Rumple, who is surely going to seek some retribution from Zelena.
Across town, the gang is out looking for Snow out to the woods. David's running through the mist and the trees and finds her in her funeral bier, asleep. He wakes her with the magically patented True Love's kiss and then he suddenly falls into a curse of his own.
Oh damn. The Evil Queen has cursed their conjoined heart with a sleeping curse, ensuring that they can't be awake at the same time. They can never be together again.
This one more than deserves a full five storybooks out of five:
I swear, if I inhale deeply, it smells like season one again. And it's not just the delightful flashbacks that reconnect us to our favorite character's origins - it's the feel of the season. Snow is more bandit-y, David is more heroic, Hook is dipping deep into the well of feels and Emma is trusting him and taking that cup. Regina is all protective mother (to everyone) and the Evil Queen is biting and brazen and wallowing in her evil. Rumple is cold and calculated and likely two steps ahead of everyone. And Belle has a spine that I swear I could proudly fly a YouGoGirl flag from. I. Am. Loving. This.
A few thoughts:
- I love Jane Espenson episodes. She just gets it - not just what we want to see, but how these characters organically grow and she still knows how to blindside us with a twist. She's amazing.
- I'm starting to think I've been reading Zelena all wrong. I think she's not what she's appearing to be on the surface, and I'm willing to go out on a limb and wonder if she and Regina aren't as estranged as we are led to believe. They worked awfully damn hard to build a relationship. I'm thinking maybe they haven't forgotten that and she's a bit of a double agent. We'll have to see how it fleshes out.
- Even though it's weird to add to the canon - I like the little flashback to how David and Snow 'met' before they met.
- Why can't Emma wake her parents with true love's kiss, as she did with Henry? Obviously, this isn't an option or they'd be doing it, so what stops her? Will they be trading off Snow for David, depending on whose skills are needed for the current crisis? This could get really interesting.
- I'm sensing a real theme here - one that I'm betting rounds out the whole arc. The spark of true love didn't fall because Snow and David fell in love with each other. It fell because she believed in herself. Loved herself. And Emma's shaking didn't stop just because she's in love with Killian. He got her to see herself through his eyes, and the eyes of everyone who loves her - to love herself. And when all this comes to a close, I'm betting Regina will have to love herself - both halves - to vanquish the Evil Queen.