The residents of Storybrooke have returned from Camelot and are anxious to get their memories back revealing what took place during their six week adventure. The dwarves, lead by Grumpy, head to the town line to test its limitations trying to make an escape from Storybrooke fearing Emma’s wrath as the new Dark One.
Poor Dopey is the silent guinea pig who is nominated by Grumpy to cross the line only to be stopped by Mary Margaret, David and Regina. Insisting they are no match for Emma since she was a driving force on the side of good and knows how their playbook against their enemies, Grumpy convinces Dopey to move forward with their plan. What seems like a positive step to escaping the latest curse quickly turns hairy or should I say leafy…Dopey is magically turned into a tree. I don’t know why there is a town line at this point if there’s going to be such strong magic on the other side of it in a land supposedly with no magic.
Back in Camelot six week prior we find the gang has arrived at King Arthur’s castle greeted by Arthur and Queen Guinevere happy to see the Merlin’s prophecy coming to fruition. Arthur and Guinevere decide to throw a ball in celebration of the much anticipated savior’s arrival.
While Granny and the Dwarves are discussing menu options and party details Zelena protests her stunted magic insisting Regina remove the magic blocking cuff or she’ll out Emma as the Dark One. With true Regina sass she silences her big sister by removing her ability to speak with the flick of wrist. Robin’s smirk is priceless as Regina taunts Zelena informing her she’s now the mute hand maiden or hangout back at Granny’s with Doc. We don’t seem much of Zelena in this episode she may very well have said screw it and gone back to Granny’s for a nap.
A frustrated Hook decides it’s pointless to waste time on a ball when they should be out looking for Merlin so he approaches Arthur suggesting they begin their quest. Arthur has no intentions of canceling the ball because they already know exactly where Merlin…trapped inside a giant tree. It was foretold that the savior would arrive and free Merlin from his prison. Arthur asks the group which one of them is the savior but gets a group full of uncertain hesitant faces. At the last second Regina steps forward proclaiming herself as the savior freeing Emma of the burden considering she’s not in control of her magic and seeing visions of Rumple it’s probably a good idea. Regina informs Arthur that she will free Merlin so he can help them defeat the Dark One so everyone can go home.
Though it’s just a split second, Lana Parrilla delivers a heartbreaking performance with a look of sadness and despair as Regina is directing this sentiment towards Emma. Emma looks away but then as Regina walks away she gives her a more sinister look back. I’m not sure if this was her anger over Regina using the dagger to keep Emma from stepping forward or the beginning of something more sinister but Emma’s time as the Dark One is becoming problematic.
Back to present day Storybrooke Rumple is still in a coma laid out in the back room of his store when an impatient Hook rushes in to question Belle about why True Love’s Kiss didn’t work between her and Rumple back in the Enchanted Forest. Belle explains that it did work but Rumple freaked out choosing power over love which canceled out the power of True Love’s Kiss. Belle reminds Hook that it’s much easier to hate a Dark One than it is to love one.
In a very Beetlejuice moment, Henry stands alone down at the docks calling out Emma Swan three times trying to summon his mom. When Emma arrives she goes to take Henry’s hand only to have him pull away. Emma’s taken back by Henry’s gesture and assures him he doesn’t have to fear her. I’m not sure Henry is entirely convinced of that. The poor kid is desperate to find out what happened in Camelot apologizes for failing his mother. Emma tells Henry that despite what she told the town the night before, Henry wasn’t the one to fail her it was everyone else.
A not so happy Regina arrives insisting Emma step away from her son. Emma taunts Regina asking her if she’s afraid Henry will discover the truth about what took place in Camelot. Regina’s confused as to why Emma is keeping those six weeks a mystery assuring her they will figure it out. Henry tries to reassure Regina that she can be the new savior but Emma scoffs at his encouragement. Regina asks Emma if she doesn’t believe Regina has it in her to be the savior, to protect the town and Emma tells Regina that she knows Regina doesn’t have it in her.
As Henry and Regina walk away Emma once again begins to taunt Regina telling her of a new threat coming to Storybrooke that only a savior can defeat. Too bad there isn’t one. At first I thought this was Emma’s way of pushing Regina into the savior role trying to get Regina to believe that she could do this and that maybe it was part of Emma’s long game but after watching it a second time I’m not so sure. The Dark One has taken hold over Emma and the further we get through the episode the more conflicted I become of just what type of game Emma is playing and how much of her true self has control.
Upon their unexpected arrive in Storybrooke an angry and highly confused Arthur wants answers. The group assembles in the Mayor’s office to fill Arthur in on what has really been going on since their arrival in Camelot. David and Mary Margaret inform him that Emma is the Dark One. Robin arrives to inform them of the others popping up in the forest so they head out to round everyone up. Regina and Mary Margaret stay behind to discuss the impending danger. Regina reminds Mary Margaret that she could take everyone out with a fireball even though she has no intention of doing so which means the arrival of Arthur and his men aren’t the threat that Emma warned them about which means the danger must be something far worse.
Back at Merlin’s tower in Arthur’s castle, Regina enter’s to find an irritated Emma. Emma’s ticked off at Regina for using the dagger to stop her from stepping forward as the savior. Regina reminds Emma that Emma gave the dagger to Regina but Emma reminds Regina that she gave her the dagger to protect Emma not to use it against her. Regina tells Emma that by stepping forward she saved Emma’s life but Emma tries to interject only to be told by Regina to shut up and listen and since Regina is hold the dagger Emma instantly does.
This has more comedic tone to it. Regina is holding the dagger casually not really realizing that she’s controlling Emma so literally with every statement she makes. Regina only wishes to explain that by Emma telling Arthur she was the savior she would have to use magic to free Merlin and Emma using dark magic is the very thing they are trying to avoid. Regina has every intention of figuring a way to free Merlin from the tree so Emma never has to use dark magic again. Still holding the dagger Regina tells Emma that she should thank her so Emma is compelled to do so. It’s quick funny moment because it isn’t genuine at all and makes light of tough moment but then Emma does genuinely thank Regina for helping her.
Present day Storybrooke we’re in the woods with Robin unpacking bottled water for the citizens of Camelot brought over by the new curse. A heavily distracted Regina quickly passes him not hearing Robin call out to her. She’s worried and unsure of herself. She doesn’t know how she’s going to convince the town that she can be the new savior. She doesn’t think they will believe or trust her and tells Robin that Emma is convinced she doesn’t have what it takes. Emma has really played on Regina’s insecurities. She knows Regina so well that she knows which buttons to push and she’s using it to her advantage or she’s using it to fight the Dark One within hoping it will give Regina the push she needs see past her own fears and lead.
Guinevere arrives and is reunited with Arthur only to discover Excaliburs missing. Ever the optimist, David overhears their conversation and assures the couple that if the sword made the trip over they will find it. Arthur is surprised that David is familiar with Excalibur. He quickly learns that the story of Excalibur is one of great legend in this realm.
While gathering firewood with Roland, Robin Hood once again is approached by a sinister flying object determined to scoop him up and take him away. Seriously, Regina need to put Robin in a protective bubble. He gets kidnapped to injured way to easily. This is of course the new threat to Storybrooke that only a savior can stop. Robin is carried away by this black ribbon female skeletal creature leaving a horrified Roland with Mary Margaret and Regina looking on.
In town a forlorn Hook stands starring at Emma’s yellow bug begging her not to make him summon her which of course does and she arrives instantly poofing them to her new pad. Suddenly Emma has a giant Victorian house on the other side of town all to herself. Decked out in her sexy black Dark One dress, Emma walks Hook through her new house an apparent perk of the new curse and of well you know being the ruler of all darkness. Hook is confused by the situation and surprised that Emma invited him to her house in the first place. In a sexy seductive tone Emma assures Hook that even though she the Dark One that doesn’t mean they can’t still be together. I can’t believe I’m saying this but for the first time ever I really think Hook doesn’t seem so sure.
As he makes his way through the house Hook notices a suspicious door with a large ancient looking industrial lock attached to it. Just as he’s about to investigate it further Emma approaches with a glass of rum telling Hook the fastest way to a pirate’s heart is through his liver. Jennifer Morrison is definitely bringing something different to the table with this side of Emma. It’s creepy and dark and seductive. Hook responds by quickly going in for a kiss with the misguided intention of using True Love’s Kiss to break the curse and free Emma from the Dark One only to fail.
Once they break away from the kiss Hook is heartbroken that it didn’t work and Emma quickly realizes that Hook spoke to Belle about her time with the Dark One. Remember the memories and experiences of all previous Dark One’s transfer to the next. Hook doesn’t understand why it didn’t work but Emma explains that there’s nothing to fix that she doesn’t understand why Hook and the rest of her friends and family don’t understand that this is who she is now. Hook insists that this isn’t Emma and demands to know what happened in Camelot. Unwilling to tell Hook what took place in Camelot she once again tries to seduce him but Hook tells Emma that she may think being the Dark One is who she is but that’s not who he is and in a surprise twist of events walks away from Emma.
The team chase after the Robin and the hell beast that has him into woods where Regina goes to battle for her man. She throws a fireball to distract it from Robin only to be tossed against a nearby tree like a rag doll. Regina’s full of piss and vinegar ready for a fight informing the creature that if it wants to do this the hard way she’s cool with that because she loves to do it the hard way (Yeah Regina, I have no doubt you do girl!) and she steps forward guns blazing or rather hands with fireballs blazing.
Sadly this creature is no joke and tosses Regina to ground hurting her leaving her injured with a bloody nose and makes off with Robin. The group catches up to her and a concerned Mary Margaret insists Leroy take Regina to the hospital but Regina refuses determined to go after Robin. When Mary Margaret stresses once again that Regina is hurt and needs help Regina takes that to mean they doubt her ability to find the monster. Her confidence in the toilet and Mary Margaret knows this so she convinces Regina that the group will keep looking but Regina needs medical help.
Back at giant Merlin tree in Camelot we find Regina and Robin standing there staring at the tree when Percival, one of Arthur’s Knights approaches offering Regina a large stone necklace asking her to wear it to ball on behalf of the King. Later that night before the ball Snow and Charming are instructing Doc about his babysitting duties for baby Neal when Regina walks by saying she’ll babysit because she has no intentions in going to the ball.
Snow is insistent that Regina get ready when Regina informs Snow that she can’t dance. While they had plenty of balls during her time with Snow and Leopold, Leopold only danced with Snow and never Regina. She wouldn’t even know how to dance even if she wanted to. It’s a really sweet moment seeing Regina vulnerable and very human in this moment. She’s concerned that she wont be convincing as the savior if she can’t even dance at the ball. Snow convinces a begrudging Regina that Charming would love to teach her to dance. But first the dress. Regina of course goes straight for the Evil Queen sexy as hell but completely inappropriate black dress so Snow convinces her to try again and Regina creates a beautiful gown suitable for savior.
Regina and Charming stumble at first but soon master their dance steps. During their twirls around the room we find out that the necklace given to Regina by Percival was no ordinary necklace but in fact an enchanted necklace used as a spy camera giving Percival full view of everything Regina see’s and hears. He soon discovers that she is not in fact the savior. You know this guys is shady as hell and this will lead to something dangerous.
Snow shares a beautiful mother daughter moment with Emma in their opulent gowns right before descending the staircase announced as Lady Emma and Lady Mary Margaret to the ball. Emma’s dress is a little on the white wedding gown side and I’m wondering if that plays into the story in the next episode of that’s just a design choice but we all know they take great care in the details so I wouldn’t be surprised if this look has a special meaning further down the road.
Regina is next to enter the ball and is introduced simply as The Savior which is a little odd that they reduce her to this title without even providing her first name as part of it. It’s clear that she is seen more as a being written into their story to save Merlin and not so much as person. However, as Regina descends the stairs you see a mix of emotions cross her face. She’s confused, nervous and even happy because for once she isn’t feared by a kingdom but revered and welcomed.
Back in Storybrooke we find a comatose Rumple laying on his bed as an angry Regina storms in to give him a piece of her mind. Regina blames him for making her the Evil Queen and now she has to convince this town that she’s the savior and it’s all his fault. She’s determined to prove him and the whole town wrong about who she really is and that she can be the one they need her to be. Belle interrupts Regina to give her the information she found about the creature that has Robin. It’s a Fury, creature that followed them from Camelot that comes to collect on magic used in Camelot that wasn’t paid and the price that it seeks is a life. The only way to stop it is exchanging a life for a life.
The castle is packed with people dancing and enjoying the ball. Snow points out to Charming an awkward Henry checking out a cute girl across the room. Charming heads over to help out his grandson with his first crush. Charming hands Henry what I hope are two non alcoholic drinks as a way to start up a conversation with the young woman. Not knowing what do next Henry pulls out his iPod to wow his new friend with music from a different land. The rest of the crew from Storybrooke is dancing and kissing enjoying the ball in all its glory.
As Regina and Robin make their way around the dance floor, that shady scheming Percival stops by to cut in and ask Regina for a dance. Percival and Regina glide across the dance floor making chit chat when Regina notices Henry across the room and demands to know the young woman is talking to her son. It’s an adorable mama bear moment for Regina right before Percival blows her cover. Turns out as a child Percival saw the destruction of the Evil Queen and was prepared to take vengeance on her now by attempting to kill her with an enchanted sword. Robin rushes for Regina and in a struggle with Percival is stabbed by the deadly sword. Hook stops Emma from using her magic to stop the fight as Regina stands by in horror.
Back at Emma’s house in Storybrooke Regina makes herself at home waiting for Emma to return. She tells Emma that she knows the price of the Fury but she wont sacrifice one life for another and Emma becomes angry and questions why now a life means something to Regina. Regina tries to convince Emma that she knows the good side of Emma, that she’s still inside of her. Emma corrects Regina telling her that Regina of all people should know there aren’t good and bad versions of people and that this is who Emma is. Regina asks Emma to call off the Fury. Emma of course refuses and tells Regina she’s done fixing her problems. Regina accuses Emma of being responsible for the Fury but Emma drops a little knowledge on Regina informing her that it was in fact Regina’s price to pay not Emma’s. A bitter and angry Emma challenges Regina to step up and do what needs to be done, to be the savior and throws her out of her house.
The wounds Robin have suffered are life threatening so Regina tries to heal him but realizes the sword was enchanted to kill her so her magic is useless. She looks to Emma to help Robin and against everyone’s wishes Emma agrees to help. As she begins to heal Robin a vision of Rumple appears reminding her that magic comes at a price and that Regina is the one to pay it because she is the one asking for help. Emma refuses to make a deal and heals Robin without taking a price. Regina is grateful and as she is kissing a now healed Robin, Emma frantically grabs Hook and starts to kiss him aggressively. It seems more an act to ground her and bring her back from hectic haze of the Dark One’s magic. She excuses herself from the room and as she leaves Rumple once again appears talking to her about enjoying the taste of power from the magic and pointing out the skin on her hand has started to change.
The Fury drags Robin to the lake waiting for a boat to arrive delivering him to hell or wherever it is darkness goes. Just as the Fury is pulling the life force from Robin, Regina arrives and decides to sacrifice herself. Mary Margaret won’t let Regina do this alone and steps up grabbing her hand to try and fight the Fury off. David, Leroy and Arthur join them in a group effort to vanquish the monster. Their plan works and Robin is safe. Regina’s willingness to sacrifice herself for Robin is enough to convince Leroy to trust her and believes that she will step up to save the town from the Dark One.
The town meets back up at Granny’s where Henry once again finds his crush Violet, Hook wallows in some rum over his failed attempt at saving Emma with a stubborn determination to save her and Mary Margaret and David worry about what it means for Emma if the win this game with the Dark One. Meanwhile across the street from Granny’s Emma stands alone watching her family and friends share a peaceful moment together but she leaves without going inside.
In a room in Arthur’s castle the group convenes after the attempt on Regina’s life where Arthur apologizes for Percival’s actions. Regina informs Arthur that Percival was right that she is the Evil Queen but Arthur reassures Regina that Camelot is a place for second chances. He’s not concerned about who she was but who she is today. He meets Guinevere at the round table to discuss the situation. They both have concerns about their new guests but Arthur doesn’t care what he has to do to get the Dark One’s dagger to complete Excalibur and is willing to pay any price.
Emma sits alone at her kitchen table in Storybrooke caressing the blade of the dagger deep in thought when a vision of Rumple appears unexpectedly. She questions his arrival since she has now accepted the darkness. He’s back to enlighten Emma in what needs to come next. He describes to her that for as long as the Dark One has existed that was always something that held them back…the family bonds that bind them, friends who know their true nature, the magic that can undo all their evil deeds and the love that never gives up on them.
The only way to get around this is to eliminate the light. Rumple explains that Emma must make the sword whole again to use it to vanquish the light freeing her of its boundaries. Rumple leads Emma behind that crazy locked door Hook noticed earlier to Emma’s basement which looks to be part of the mines where she has hidden the rock with Excalibur stuck in it. Emma attempts to pull the sword from the stone but is thrown back by its power. Rumple mocks her arrogance in thinking it would be that simple and explains that a hero must be the one to pull the sword stone.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays 8/7c on ABC.