We begin "Many Years Ago" at the moment of Rumple's immaculately clean birth to a still-human Fiona. In a callback to Henry's birth scene, the candles flicker, flame out and revive. Rumple's parents clearly love the hell out of him, and as they're oohing and aahing over their little bundle of joy, in poof Blue and Tiger Lilly - the latter being Rumple's assigned fairy godmother. I'm loving Blue's new outfit. It's about damn time. At least she doesn't look like a poorly-frosted doll cake anymore.
Why does the baby get a fairy godmother, you ask? Because a prophecy told them a boy would be born with great light magic - a child known as The Savior. Apparently, saviors are nearly as common as magic beans, because it's getting to be that you can't swing a dead cat in Storybrooke without hitting one.
Forward now to Gold's shop, where Rumple uses the odor of a moldy dragon fetus to awaken Blue. Despite the creativity of the writers with that one, it takes a moment for her to revive enough to tell them the wand is in the center of Storybrooke. Suddenly, Snow and David morph into The Black Fairy and Gideon, having pulled the old magical switcheroo. The Black Fairy poofs away with Blue to the mines, where she pulls out some wicked torture wands that I want to know more about.
Before Gideon can poof out to join her, Rumple slaps him with the magic-dampening cuff and swears to him he's going to get that heart back. Gideon refuses to give up the location of his heart - the fairy has put some sort of spell in place to cause him pain if he even so much as talks about it.
Rumple has a solution. The sands of Morpheus will take them into the dream world, where they can talk freely. He also hit Emma with a faceful of the sand so she can't blast the fairy before he rescues Gideon's heart.
Meanwhile, Zelena is trying to put together an Ikea crib like a muggle, and Regina stops by to give her a hand. Zelena feels useless in the face of oddly-sized Allen wrenches, and wonders how she'll be able to protect her daughter when the final battle comes. Regina holds up a monkey keychain, and leads her outside to this monstrosity:
She proceeds to give Zelena a crash course ("crash" being the operative word) on how to drive a stick shift so that Zelena can flee with baby Robin - and Henry - to New York. Because that's the only city anybody goes to, anyway. I'm guessing that's because Neal's magic apartment is there, vacant and rent-free with an endless supply of utilities. Zelena agrees to Regina's request, but no one bothers to ask Henry how he feels about leaving everyone he loves to go live with the unbalanced chick who murdered his Dad.
Flashback once again to Fiona, who has found out the truth about her son, the savior. Tiger Lilly gave her the "Book of Prophecy" which predicts the great evil that will come for her son, born in the same winter and bearing a scar like a crescent moon. Tiger Lilly reminds her that as his fairy godmother, it's her job to save the baby, so Fiona should just go be human in a corner and stay out of it. Fiona takes Tiger Lilly's wand and uses it - and her extensive knowledge of fairy lore to turn herself into a fairy.
Fiona then goes on the warpath, popping in and inspecting every baby she can find with an oddly complacent Tiger Lilly along for the ride. It's the final day of winter, and she still hasn't located a baby with a crescent moon-shaped scar. She begs Tiger Lilly to help her break into the fairy vault for supplies so she can enact a spell to find this child and stop the great evil before it can strike.
Ahead in the dreamworld, Emma's remarkably okay with being forcibly put under. They see no sign of Gideon, so she and Rumple make their way into the home of Rumple's birth because this is Rumple's dream. He's not thrilled to be there, either.
Emma tries to do some former-orphan bonding with him, but it doesn't fly. Rumple hates his mother so much he seethes with it. They find Gideon, and he thanks his father for fighting for him. They both shed some tears, and dammit, when Bobby Carlyle cries, so do I.
Back in awakeland, Regina has figured out the Blue was speaking figuratively. The "Center of Storybrooke" is Granny's. Snow, David, Regina and Killian start tearing Granny's apart to find the rest of the wand, and there it is, under a floorboard that's under the jukebox. Because the jukebox is such a riveting part of Storybrooke lore. They'd have been better off hiding the wand behind the dartboard of hotness.
The Black Fairy shows up just as they find the wand, but Regina refuses to hand it over. She and Blackie poof out in a cloud of purple, ready to do each other great bodily harm in the middle of Main Street.
Her Black Hotness remind Regina that she invented the damn town, and Regina reminds her that she didn't have the guts to cast her own curse. Blackie gets off one good hit at Regina before Zelena charges in with the green monstrosity and saves the damn episode. Holy Hell, was this outrageously good.
Back to Dreamland again, where Gideon lets Rumple know that the Black Fairy has a dark secret - the reason she gave him up - and she's terrified for Rumple to learn it. "I think all your answers are right here, inside you," Gideon says. "You just have to be willing to face them."
Rumple holds the crocheted baby blanket from his crib ( and there's another callback). "It's okay to be scared," Emma tells him. She calls him on his nonsense and tells him he needs to get vulnerable for the sake of his son, drop his barriers and face the ugly truth of his abandonment.
Rumple concentrates on the blanket, and the dreamworld scene around them dissolves to show Fiona, holding baby Rumple in the middle of the vault of the fairies.
Tiger Lilly realizes the spell Fiona is trying to cast is actually a curse - and not just any curse - the dark curse. The curse would send every child to the land without magic, something Tiger Lilly refuses to be a part of. Fiona takes her heart and tries to crush it, which backfires, turning her into the Black Fairy. It also marks her with a crescent scar. Fiona is now the great evil - and she and Rumple are destined to destroy each other.
Blue arrives and restores Tiger Lilly's heart, and Tiger Lilly offers Fiona the Shears of Destiny to separate her from her power, thus breaking the prophecy. Instead, the Black Fairy uses them to separate Rumple from his destiny, so that her powers are preserved. Blue blasts her through a portal in a fit of rage, banishing her to the dark realm forever.
In Gold's shop, they all wake up, visibly shaken. Regina shows up to learn that Rumple is the Savior, and Emma bows the hell out in a heartbeat. Belle immediately gushes about how good Rumple is inside, and Rumple takes the broken wand, using his magic to make it whole.
The Black Fairy meets Rumple on a dark and misty field. He thinks she left him so he wouldn't kill her, but she shows him the truth. She swore she would find a way back to him even as Blue banished her.
Rumple can clearly see the parallels - she chose her power over her child, and it's clear to see that Rumple feels the bitter sting of that choice from both sides now.
"If my choice was wrong, I did it out of love." She defends. She also refuses to apologize for her treatment of Gideon, claiming all that abuse made him stronger.
Flashback one last time to Blue handing over the baby to Malcolm, and letting him know that Fiona was gone. He's a broken man - Fiona was the love of his life and he blames the baby, giving him the ugliest name he can think of: Rumplestiltskin.
Forward now to Granny's, where Rumple strolls in and puts a blackened heart on the table in front of the gang, swearing that the Black Fairy is banished for good. They all believe him, of course, but me? I had this look on my face:
Rumple then returns to the shop and gives Gideon back his heart. They embrace as Belle loses that little bit of calcium she had growing in her spine and gushes again about how very good to the core Rumple must be because he fought for his family. He reminds Belle and Gideon that everything he's about to do, no matter how it seems, he's doing to protect them. And that is in no way ominous to either of them, apparently.
Across town at the Captain Swan estate, Killian asks Henry to go on a mission. Yes! I knew it! Killian's gut instinct told him that Rumple was up to something, so he wants Henry to help him find out if the Black Fairy is really dead!
Just kidding. Killian's duped and stupid like everyone, but he does ask Henry to be his best man. He gives Henry the rings to guard for the next 24 hours.
Emma comes downstairs only to be told that the date is set. She and Killian are getting married tomorrow, and that's that.
And on the dark side of town, Rumple meets with a not-surprisingly not-dead Black Fairy. "No one ever doubts me," he tells her, as I guffaw loudly. Belle and Gideon are safely asleep with no idea of what's to come - whatever that means. I'm guessing he hit them with a snootful of happy dream dust. He and the Black Fairy are gearing up for the final battle, and in yet another callback, The Black Fairy plans to kill Emma on her wedding day.
I'm giving this one four blackened hearts out of five.
I love the twist of having Rumple as an erstwhile savior, and Zelena absolutely saved what would have been a rather plodding episode.
- How did Rumple know his mother was the Black Fairy? Malcolm didn't know what she'd become. Who told Rumple? And when?
- Back in the Camelot arc (when Emma was The Dark One) Merlin discussed a prophecy concerning someone who could balance the light and the dark. We all assumed it was Emma, but the writers seem to be derailing that. Maybe we have another Rumple redemption set up, or maybe he stays rotten to the core and Emma blasts him to pieces. I'm kinda hoping for the latter, to be honest.
- So . . . suppose Zelena takes Baby Robin and Henry (as Regina requested), whisking them away by accident (?) to the realm of the Black Fairy, where they both age ten years in a few hours or days, and Zelena dies getting them back to Storybrooke. Enter mid-twenty something Henry and a precocious young girl (Robin) per the casting notice that went out for season 7. Just a hypothesis.
- Who owns the blackened heart that Rumple put on the table?
- Why the hell is Emma always upstairs? Alone? What the hell is she doing up there? Alone! And why is she doing it alone when she could be shagging the leather off a dashing pirate?