Clang! Clang! Prince Charming wearily tries to break the lock on his cage with a stone clutched in his bruised and bloody hands. He seems near exhaustion when two of The Queen's guards arrive to take him to his execution. As they escort him down the hall, he starts to collapse from the exertion when suddenly he moves with amazing speed, knocking out one guard before taking out the second—all while he's still in manacles. He breaks into a run when he comes face-to-face with another of Regina's knights. The guard draws a bow and lets fly. For a split-second it looks like Charming's escape attempt has come to a tragic conclusion, but the arrow goes wide—right into another pursuing guard. The knight with the bow removes his helm and we see it's The Huntsman! He's still in Regina's service after she tore his heart out, but he's got enough defiance left in him to free Charming and send him on his way to find Snow White.
In Storybrooke, Emma has rushed Henry to the hospital. His vitals are dropping, and Dr. Whale can't tell why. Emma insists that it was poison from the apple turnover, but Dr. Whale says that he shows no signs of any kind of poisoning. Emma dumps out Henry's backpack looking for a clue, anything that can explain what's happening. She grabs the book of fairy tales and sees flashes—glimpses of her as a baby and the rush to get her to the magic wardrobe. As the truth begins to dawn on Emma, Regina rushes in looking for Henry with the unmistakable sound of a mother's worry in her voice. "Where's my son," she asks as she comes into the room.
Emma responds with quiet menace: "You did this." Suddenly Emma grabs Regina by the arm and hauls her into a storage closet before throwing her against the shelves, hard. Emma shouts at Regina that what's happening to Henry is her fault, that he ate the apple turnover. Regina realizes what's happening and, finally, so does Emma. "It's true, isn't it," she demands. And Regina has no choice now but to admit that The Curse is real.
Emma demands that Regina fix what she's done, that she find a way to wake Henry up with magic. But Regina used the last of her magic to get the apple. There's nothing left that can save Henry. They need help. They need someone who knows magic—someone who might even have some. They need Rumplestiltskin.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, The Queen is furious. The Huntsman tells her that the Prince has escaped, but claims he will find Charming for her. The Queen has a different plan. Using her Magic Mirror, she sends Prince Charming into the Infinite Forest. Charming doesn't seem deterred by the sudden change of scenery, but as he begins to pass the same familiar clearing, he realizes something is wrong. Then a familiar voice calls out and he turns to find Rumplestiltskin sitting on a log, wearing the Prince's old cloak and holding his mother's ring. Rumple enchants the ring so that it will glow as he gets closer to Snow White and offers to get him out of the Infinite Forest, if he's willing to make a deal.
But Charming isn't in the mood for deal-making. He draws his sword and squares off against The Dark One. Rumplestiltskin draws a blade of his own and the two exchange blows, with Rumplestiltskin using magic to almost effortlessly parry each of Charming's attacks. But when Prince Charming is able to draw blood, Rumple quickly and brutally ends the fight, switching back to negotiations. He tells the Prince that they both want the same thing.
In Storybrooke, Mary Margaret and David couldn't be farther apart. As she leaves Granny's and is about to get in her car, David arrives to tell her he's been wrong about so much, not the least of which was not believing in her. He tells her he loves her, but he is going to leave town tomorrow unless she can give him a reason to stay. But she can't. She gets in her car and David walks away.
In the Infinite Forest, Rumplestiltskin shows Charming the most powerful magic that he's ever bottled—True Love. Prince Charming asks how Rumplestiltskin could know anything about true love and Rumple admits that he did love someone once, but she died. Yes, he's talking about Belle and clearly he still believes the lie that Regina told him about her being dead. Rumplestiltskin places the phial with True Love inside it into a golden case shaped like an ornate egg and tosses it to Charming. The deal is, if Prince Charming can hide the egg in the belly of a beast, Rumplestiltskin will give him the enchanted ring and send him on his way to find Snow White. "Why hide it," Charming asks.
"Let's just say I'm saving it for a rainy day," Rumplestiltskin replies.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma and Regina walk into Mr. Gold's pawnshop and he already seems to know what's happening. Emma asks for help and Gold tells her what she needs is True Love. Luckily for her, he was able to bottle some and keep it hidden for safe-keeping. He tells her that the True Love magic he was able to create from the strands of her parents' hair was so powerful that, as he was making the Dark Curse, he placed a single drop of it on the parchment as a precaution. Emma realizes that's why she’s The Savior—the only one who can break The Curse. But Gold/Rumple didn't use the entire potion. He saved some for a rainy day.
"Well it's storming like a bitch. Where is it," Emma demands.
That's when Gold turns to Regina and asks, "Tell me, Your Majesty, is our friend still in the basement?" Regina immediately realizes what he's asking, but Mr. Gold clarifies that he didn't hide it with "her," he hid it IN "her." They must be talking about the same beast that Charming had to face. But what is it? Whatever it is, Mr. Gold tells Emma she needs to be prepared for it. He opens a case and reveals her father's sword.
Later, in the hospital, Emma gently strokes Henry's hair and tells him he was right about The Curse before leaving his book on his bed. Regina comes in and Emma gives her ten minutes alone with Henry. But her ten minutes don't last long, because Jefferson arrives and he's there to collect on the deal they made. Regina isn't really in a giving mood though, telling Jefferson that their deal is null and void since Emma didn't eat the apple. Jefferson is furious—he wants to get his daughter back—but Regina doesn't care. She knows Jefferson can't kill her or else The Curse will never be broken and he'll never be reunited with his little girl.
Emma goes to see August to ask for his help. She now knows that he had been telling her the truth. But when she gets to his room at Granny's, he can't move. His whole body has turned to wood and it won't be long before he's gone completely. She can see his transformation now and he tells her the only way to stop it is to break The Curse. She asks how she's supposed to deal with all of this, but he has faith in her. He tells her, "You can save Henry. You can save all of—" But he never finishes. He's turned completely to wood!
Emma and Regina meet outside the clock tower. Regina opens the door at the base and they enter what looks like a library's front entrance. Regina touches a panel and a large section of the wall slides away to reveal an old elevator leading down. The elevator is hand-operated, so Regina has to stay at the top while Emma descends to face whatever creature Rumplestiltskin once asked Charming to hide the True Love potion inside. Emma asks what's down there and Regina replies "an old friend." Whoever or whatever "she" is, Regina trapped her in Storybrooke in a different form, and "she" wouldn't be happy to see Regina. As Emma gets on the elevator, she warns the Mayor that if Henry dies, so will she.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, a familiar woman strolls to her throne. It's Maleficent, enjoying a quiet moment in her castle, when suddenly Prince Charming appears, his sword at her throat. He demands to see the beast that reigns over the castle. Maleficent thrusts Charming back with a magical blast and reveals that she is "the beast." Just as the Prince is wondering how he's going to get that giant egg inside of Maleficent, she magically blows out all of the candles in the room. Shrouded in darkness, Charming tells the witch to show herself, and slowly she does. But she's no longer the blonde woman we've seen—she's transformed into a monstrous, fire-breathing dragon!
Deep beneath Storybrooke, the old elevator car comes to a stop in a cavern. Holding her father's sword, Emma steps out and walks into the dim light of the cave. As she enters, she sees the old remains of the glass coffin her mother, Snow White, was once interred in. As she steps back from it, a giant eye opens in the darkness behind her. Suddenly, Emma senses the movement of a large, scaly creature and turns to come face-to-face with Maleficent in dragon form!
In Maleficent's castle, Prince Charming is hiding behind a pillar, trying to avoid the angry dragon long enough to think of a plan for getting the beast to swallow the egg. When he spots some gills on the side of the creature's neck, he thinks he might have something. He taunts the dragon before making a break for it, trying to stick to portions of the room the dragon can't fit through to keep some distance between them. He rushes up a staircase and finds himself above the creature. Leaping into the air, he lands on the dragon's muzzle. As the beast rears and struggles, Charming holds on desperately. Spotting an opening, the Prince shoves the egg into one of the Dragon's gills, forcing it down the creature's throat. It coughs and sputters, but the egg goes down. His work done, Charming leaps through a stained glass window, diving into the waters far below.
In the depths below Storybrooke, Emma faces down the same dragon. Quickly realizing she's not much good with a sword, she drops her father's weapon and draws her gun. She fires are the dragon, but the bullets seem unable to penetrate the beast's scaly hide. Emma runs, ducking behind a large pillar of rock. The dragon circles around, landing on a nearby outcropping to get a better angle of attack, but the outcropping crumbles and the dragon plummets into the darkness. Emma peers over the edge, but sees no sign of Maleficent. Suddenly, the dragon flies upward, the gust from its great beating wings knocking her back as it spots her.
At Henry's bedside, Mary Margaret finishes reading him the story of Snow White. Suddenly alarms go off. Henry is crashing. Dr. Whale rushes in and the hospital is in an uproar. In the background, an orderly sneaks into a secure wing of the hospital, giving a familiar nurse her tea. When the nurse passes out, we realize it's Jefferson. He strolls past a locked metal door with the name "S. Glass" beside it to another one with no name. He opens it to reveal Belle! He tells her he's setting her free and that it's important that she find Mr. Gold and tell him that Regina was the one who had her imprisoned. She seems confused, but grateful. It seems that Jefferson may have found a way to get back at Regina after all.
Back in Fairy Tale Land, Prince Charming walks out of the lake to find Rumplestiltskin waiting for him on the shore. Rumple makes good on his end of the bargain, giving him the ring and setting him off to find his beloved. He even uses his magic to give Charming the regal set of clothes we first saw him wear in the series premiere. The Prince asks Rumplestiltskin what he gets out of all of this. Rumple replies, "I'm a fan of true love, dearie. And more importantly, what it creates."
Speaking of, Emma is still facing that dragon deep below Storybrooke. She fires her gun again, desperately, but all it seems to do is make the beast angrier. She runs again, narrowly dodging gouts of flame, when she spots her father's sword lying where she dropped it. She runs over and picks it up. The dragon turns on her, ready to blast her with a cone of fire, when she hurls the sword—just like we saw her father once do to the Evil Queen—sinking it deep within the dragon's throat as the beast prepares to breathe flames. The sword starts a chain reaction and an explosion engulfs the dragon, destroying it. As cinders blow around the cavern and smoke wafts amongst a giant pile of ash, Emma spots the golden egg.
In Fairy Tale Land, Prince Charming rides to his beloved Snow White, just as we saw in the series premiere. With true love's kiss, a wave of energy ripples outward from the couple and Snow White awakens, her curse broken. Later, as they walk side-by-side, Snow White asks how Charming found her and he shows her the ring and proposes to her right there. She says yes and the two of them kiss again, but the Prince realizes that something is bothering her. King George and Queen Regina are still out there and still want them both dead. The two of them agree to take back the kingdom, together. But in Storybrooke, it's morning and David has packed up his pickup and started toward Boston. It's beginning to seem like there may not be a "happily ever after" for these two.
Emma is riding back up the old elevator when it suddenly lurches to a stop. She calls out for Regina, but it's Mr. Gold who responds. He tells her that Regina has run off, leaving her to die down there. Emma tosses the egg up to Mr. Gold to free her hands so that she can climb the rest of the way up. But when she does, he leaves without a word. When Emma climbs out of the elevator shaft, she sees Regina bound and gagged in a chair. It was a trick! The two of them are about to set off after him when their phones both ring. It's the hospital!
The two mothers rush in to find Dr. Whale and Mother Superior leaving Henry's hospital room. They're too late. Henry's dead. Both Emma and Regina are stunned and heartbroken at the sight of Henry lying lifeless in the hospital bed, wires and tubes still attached to his body.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gold has the egg and has returned to his pawnshop. Pulling a key out of a small drawer, he unlocks the egg and retrieves the phial of True Love. The door chimes as a customer walks in asking, "Excuse me, are you Mr. Gold?" He turns to tell the woman to go away when he sees that it's Belle. He's overcome with emotion at the sight of her, touching her shoulder to make sure that she's real. As tears of joy begin to fall from his eyes, he hugs her close, promising that he will protect her.
Regina and Emma are also breaking down, but for them these are not tears of happiness, but sorrow. Emma leans down and kisses her dead son on the forehead, saying her final "I love you."
Suddenly, a familiar wave of energy ripples outward, blowing past everyone in the room like a gust of wind. Henry's eyes open and he inhales sharply before telling Emma that he loves her, too. Regina's amazed that Emma was able to bring Henry back, but suddenly she notices the looks of confusion on Mother Superior and Dr. Whale's faces. It dawns on her and Henry at the same time. The Curse has been broken!
Throughout Storybrooke, the people of the town are hit by the wave of energy and suddenly remember who they really are. It reaches all the way out to the edge of town where David was just about to pass the now-ominous "Leaving Storybrooke" sign. Noticeably changed, he turns his truck around and speeds back toward town and his true love.
In Henry's hospital room, Regina is watching her world crumble around her. Mother Superior, remembering herself now as The Blue Fairy, warns Regina that she should probably find a place to hide and we can't help but think of the dream Regina had at the beginning of "An Apple Red as Blood." She tells Henry that "No matter what anyone tells you, I do love you." Then she runs out of the room.
On the streets of Storybrooke, Prince Charming finds Snow White once more. The two meet right there in the middle of town and kiss passionately, reunited at last. Meanwhile Regina cries alone in Henry's bedroom, finally feeling all she's lost.
Mr. Gold and Belle are walking through the woods outside of Storybrooke. Belle asks for him to wait, but he tells her they're very close to their destination. "Rumplestiltskin, wait," she replies. He stops. She remembers everything, including her love for him. As they embrace, he tells her, finally, that he loves her, too. He takes her deeper into the woods, to the wishing well that August showed to Emma in "What Happened to Frederick." He recalls the legend of how the waters within the well are said to have the power to return that which was lost. Then he drops the phial of True Love in.
Slowly a purple mist, much like the cloud that formed The Dark Curse, boils up out of the well, rolling up and out into the air and along the ground. As the people of Storybrooke begin to see it, they're stricken by the sight, held fast by fear. Is this some new curse? Belle asks what's happening and Mr. Gold reveals that they are in a land without magic, and he's bringing it, "because magic, is power." As Snow White and Prince Charming hold one another in the middle of Storybrooke, the purple mist rolls over them. Regina, crying just a moment ago over all of her ruined plans and schemes, now lets a smile creep across her lips at the sight of the magic mist. And on that ominous sight, the Storybrooke clock tower ticks to 8:15 and the end of season one!
- 8|7c 20/20: In an Instant
- 9|8c 20/20: In an Instant