We open in FAIRY TALE LAND’S present day. It’s night at the base of the beanstalk that we know from EP 207. HOOK finishes climbing down only to find a very displeased CORA, especially once she finds out that Hook doesn’t have the enchanted compass. She knows that he chose to side with Emma and Snow, and intends to make him deal with the consequences. Hook tries to convince her that he was always on her side, but she disbelieves this, telling Hook that she intends to leave him in FTL with his thirst for revenge unquenched before she disappears in a cloud of purple smoke. We follow her to her encampment, where she uses one of her enchanted hearts to raise up a group of UNDEAD WARRIORS! Snow and Emma don’t know it yet, but their troubles just got a lot worse. Off Cora’s satisfaction –
We join EMMA, SNOW, AURORA and MULAN at their encampment, in another part of present day FTL. Picking up where we left off, after Aurora told Snow and Emma that the boy she saw in her terrifying dream said his name was Henry. Emma shows Aurora a picture of Henry, which a shocked Aurora confirms is the Henry from her dream. Emma, “That’s impossible.” How could Aurora be dreaming of her son? Snow says maybe it wasn’t a dream. With everyone rapt, Snow reveals that she has been to the burning room, too. Aurora has made her realize that it must be a side-effect of the sleeping curse, though she didn’t want to scare Aurora by revealing her dream might be true. But the good news is that they can communicate with Henry, which means they can find out how to defeat Cora and retrieve the ashes of the wardrobe by getting Henry to consult the one person who would know how to do just that: Rumplestiltskin, AKA Mr. Gold. Understanding their opportunity, Emma tells Aurora she needs to go back to sleep. Aurora does, finding herself in the same BURNING ROOM we’re now familiar with. She meets Henry there, telling him crucial information, before –
Henry awakens in his bed in Emma and Mary Margaret’s Apartment in STORYBROOKE. Henry cries out, “They’re alive!” When a resting DAVID and REGINA come to, Henry lets them know that Emma and Mary Margaret are alive, and that they need them to talk to Gold to find out how to defeat someone. Regina, curious, asks who, and Henry tells her… “Your mother.” Off Regina, more than a bit stunned at this–
--Jump to Granny’s Diner, where MR. GOLD and BELLE are sitting at a booth, with Granny serving them hamburgers with a side of snark. Gold explains he has a complicated relationship with Granny, as he does with most in town, but Belle tells him people will get to know him like she did, it will just take time. The two share an intimate moment before Regina storms in, telling Gold they need to talk. Granny and everyone are on edge, but Gold remains calm, saying with false-politeness, “Belle, you remember the woman who locked you up for twenty-eight years.” Regina pushes through Gold’s resistance, telling him her mother is coming to Storybrooke, and reminding him that’s something neither one of them want. Gold says he can defeat Cora, and it’s Regina’s problem., but Regina reminds him that he has someone he cares about; that makes him vulnerable. When Belle asks who Cora is, Gold tells her, “Someone you’ll never meet.” Regina tells Gold that Cora is in the same place as Emma and Snow.
We rejoin Emma, Snow, Aurora and Mulan in the forest of PRESENT DAY FTL, where Snow looks for a place to camp before Aurora has her planned meeting with Henry in the Netherworld. Mulan has noticed the burns on Aurora’s arm (just like Henry), and in a private moment between the two, Aurora convinces a dubious Mulan that going back in to meet Henry is something she has to do.
Jump to STORYBROOKE, in the back room of Gold’s shop. Gold, Regina and David look over Henry, lying in bed. After a worried David has a comforting moment with Henry, Mr. Gold preps him for his impending journey, recounting the story of how he was made captive as Rumplstiltskin. Correcting Henry (and us) that it was not just a quill that captured the Dark One, but the special ink that it held. As Henry falls asleep, Gold tells him that a private supply of this ink can be found in his jail cell.
In FTL present, as Aurora sleeps, Snow tries to reassure Emma that things will be alright, but then… Emma hears something. The women are suddenly on alert, as—
In the NETHERWORLD, fire all around, Aurora finds Henry, and the two try to communicate. But the place is too loud, and Aurora can’t hear as Henry tries to tell her to go to Rumple’s cell. On top of the roar of the room they hear a VOICE, calling out indistinguishably. Aurora and Henry realize that someone is calling out to Aurora, and she is suddenly SUCKED out of the Netherworld and into…
The camp, where Mulan is frantically trying to wake her. Aurora tells Mulan that Henry didn’t finish, but Mulan says there’s no time for that now. A ferocious BATTLE is taking place, with Emma and Snow defending themselves against a cabal of undead warriors, courtesy of Cora. Emma almost loses the compass to one of them, but Snow’s perfect arrow shot gets the undead warrior to drop it. But the undead keep attacking! Emma and Snow realize they need to flee, but then notice that Mulan and Aurora are gone. NEARBY, we see that Mulan has led Aurora away from the fight, or so she thinks, as the two are ambushed by more undead. Mulan fights valiantly, but when Emma and Snow catch up to her she reveals… they took Aurora!
Back in STORYBROOKE, in Gold’s back room, Henry awakens and tells David and Regina that he didn’t get the chance to tell Aurora. In serious pain, Regina pulls up Henry’s sleeve to reveal a severe burn, much worse than we’ve seen before. Off of Regina and David’s shock and disappointment –
We travel to the Island Encampment where the bodies from Regina’s massacre still lie around. Down in the PIT where Emma and Snow were kept, we find a captive Aurora. Cora comes in, bringing Aurora food. Aurora is adamant; she won’t tell Cora anything. Cora is unimpressed. She’s more valuable as a trade for the compass. Aurora rejects this, telling Cora that her companions want to get home and barely know her. Cora tells her she knows Snow and Emma better; they won’t let an innocent die no matter the personal cost. Cora, realizing that Aurora was considering going back with Emma and Snow, scoffs, and tries to coerce Aurora by telling her that Philip is not lost. Souls that the wraith consumes can be found again. But Aurora kicks her food away, rejecting this “help,” which infuriates Cora. She flings Aurora against a wall, knocking her out, and then gives a nearby CROW a message for Emma and Snow, before it flies off to –
Snow and Emma, walking in the forest of present day FTL. The crow alights onto Snow’s shoulder for a few moments, then flies off, with Snow telling the rest of the group that the bird carried a message from Cora: if they don’t deliver the compass to Cora by sundown, she will kill Aurora. Mulan immediately demands the compass, but Emma and Snow tell her to wait, they need a plan. Mulan tries to grab for the compass from Emma, saying she must keep her promise to Phillip to protect Aurora. Snow gets in between them, offering Mulan that if they can’t defeat Cora in the next few hours, she can take the compass. Mulan reminds her that their only chance to have stopped Cora is gone, but Snow says she can go to the netherworld to complete their mission if she has some of Mulan’s sleeping powder to lower her defenses. But Mulan gave the last of her powder to Emma to knock out the giant. But, she adds, there is a place they can find more. And as the warriors depart to find their only hope of defeating Cora and saving Aurora –
We go to STORYBROOKE, in the back room of Gold’s shop, where Gold heals Henry’s burn. Gold mentions that Henry needs time to recover before he goes back. David and Regina reject this, unwilling to risk Henry further. Besides, Aurora was whisked away; no one would be there. David suddenly realizes that someone will be there: Snow. He brushes aside Regina and Gold’s doubt, telling them he knows Snow will be there, and he’ll be there to meet her. But for David to do that, Gold reminds him, he would need to be under a sleeping curse, and might never be able to get out of it. David tells them that Snow will kiss him and break the curse, just like he did for her. And now David’s patience is running thin. This is their only option, and he’s determined to bring his wife back home.
We leap to FTL present day, where Aurora wakes to a shock – Hook is in her cell, trying to rouse her. Aurora is terrified, assuming that the pirate has come to kill her, but he tells her he’s there to free her. He tells a skeptical Aurora that he doesn’t like to be double-crossed, and is giving Cora a ‘shot across her bow.’ Aurora starts to leave her cell when Hook stops her and tells her to give Emma a message: their deal still stands. If Emma can get Hook back to her land, he’ll help them get the ashes from Cora. Aurora takes this information and leaves, taking us to –
--The forest of present day FTL, where Mulan leads Snow and Emma through dense forest to the location of the poppies. Emma sense that Snow is worried, and her prodding gets Snow to confess the horror of the Netherworld; being helpless with all the memories of those you’ve lost. Emma is horrified, realizing her disbelief exposed Henry to this terrible place. Snow pulls Emma out of her shame spiral by reminding her that it was her own confession to Cora about Regina’s love of Daniel that started this whole conflict in the first place, if you’re really looking for someone to blame. Emma corrects her, telling her that Regina is the one at fault.
From there we go to STORYBROOKE, in Gold’s shop, where a curious Henry is watching Regina use mysterious substances to create her sleeping spell. Henry asks if the potion is finished, and Regina says almost. Henry asks if Regina has been using magic, and she says she hasn’t except for Daniel (in EP 205) and now. Henry is happy that she’s using it to help people now, but is relieved to hear her say she’ll stop after this. Henry is worried about David, and also feeling guilty that he can’t go in himself, but Regina reassures him that David will be safe while asleep, and that he and Snow always find each other. From Henry, encouraged, we leap to –
Present day FTL, on an exotic red flower. Mulan tells Emma and snow that she’ll crush up the seeds with her knife.
Back in Storybrooke, in the back of Gold’s shop, Regina uses the potion she created to enchant a needle from Gold’s spinning wheel. She dips the needle in her potion, causing the needle to momentarily glow, before placing it on the spinning wheel, and tells David, “It’s all yours.” Henry, emotional, hugs David. Henry is very worried, but David tells him that faith runs in their family. Henry gives David his enchanted necklace, which David says he’ll defend with his life.
Back in present day FAIRY TALE LAND, where Mulan finishes grinding up the seeds of the poppy. Mulan tells Snow that the effects should last an hour or less. Snow says that should be plenty of time as long as Henry is there to meet her. Mulan blows the poppy powder in Snow’s face, causing her to fall into a deep sleep, as –
--Gold spins his spinning wheel. David assumes that he’ll be going straight to the burning room, but Gold lets him know that’s a place only people who’ve already been in the sleeping curse go to. He’ll need to find the burning room. They’re all counting on it, adding “Good luck.” David pricks his finger on the spinning wheel, and instantly falls asleep.
We join David in a VOID of dark and mirrors. David, finding a torch, looks around, calling out for Snow, who we know is awaiting Henry in the burning room. David, lost in the void, notices his necklace glowing. He lets it lead him for a moment, until it gets hot and he drops it. As he reaches down to pick it up he notices heat coming from the floor. Suddenly realizing, he slams his torch handle into the floor, breaking it and sending him falling into… THE BURNING ROOM! David found it, though the necklace was destroyed in his fall. After a moment, Snow sees David and calls out to him. Overjoyed to see her, he goes to her, but FLAMES leap up between them, blocking his path. Not knowing how much time she has, David quickly tells Snow that they need to go to Gold’s cell to retrieve the enchanted ink. Snow takes this in, then stops, asking, “Charming, how are you here?” He says he needed to see her. Without his saying so, she knows he’s under a sleeping curse. He tells her it was worth it, and that she’s going to break his curse with true love’s kiss. He leaps across the flames, and as the couple leans in to embrace and kiss… they pass right through each other like ghosts. It’s the netherworld, David realizes. Neither one of them are really there. Snow, heartbroken, feels that she is waking up. She’s terrified that it may not just be always finding each other that is their hallmark, but also losing each other. David tells her he refuses to believe it, adding, “You need to have faith. In us.” Snow’s “I love you” gets cut off as she is pulled from the burning room, leaving David alone…
Returning to the back of Gold’s shop, David lies still, quite asleep, and Henry wonders what’s taking so long. Regina tries to reassure him, but a look from Gold tells her that this is not looking good.
In present day FTL, Snow awakens from her deep slumber, with Emma asking if she’s okay. Snow leaps up, trying to find more sleeping powder. Snow reveals that David is trapped in the burning room. A desperate Snow tells Emma they have to get back home. Emma, helping Snow keep faith, tells her they will. She asks Snow if she got the information, and Snow tells her about the ink in Rumple’s cell. As they prepare to go, Emma makes a terrible realization. The compass is gone. And so is MULAN. Off their shock at this turn, we join Mulan, running through the forest with the compass, trying to beat Cora’s deadline.
And at the Island Encampment in present day FTL, Cora storms into Aurora’s cell to find her gone and Hook there. She tells him she hopes he wasn’t stupid enough to free her prisoner. Hook, flip, tells Cora that Aurora wasn’t going to help her anyway. Cora, not amused, uses magic to fling Hook against a wall, where outcroppings of rock surround his arms, holding him fast. She approaches, then detaches his hook, about to plunge it into his chest. But Hook tells her he should be thanking her. He instructs her to look in his satchel; he has a gift. She opens it, looks at its contents, and says, “Is that…?” Hook confirms that it is, and tells her she can use it to get everything she wants. From this mysterious turn, we join –
--Mulan, still running furiously through the forest of present day FTL, when an arrow hits a tree near her. Snow appears, telling Mulan that last shot was a warning; the next one won’t be. Emma tells Mulan to give them the compass, and Mulan seems to agree, then leaps to fight, but Snow is done playing. She SLAMS Mulan to the ground, putting an arrow to her throat and telling her they have a way to defeat Cora, and Aurora will be free, so Mulan WILL give them the compass. Mulan, adamant, tells Snow she’ll have to kill her. Just as we wonder if Snow might do it, we hear, “Stop!” It’s Aurora, who quickly rushes over, telling Snow to let Mulan go. A shocked Emma and Snow ask if she was followed, and Aurora says she doesn’t think so. Cora didn’t see her escape. Aurora tells a shocked Emma that Hook helped her escape, and he did it because of Emma. He wanted to prove to Emma that she should have trusted him. And if she had trusted him they could have defeated Cora together. And if these words seem a bit of an extrapolation of Hook’s sentiment, we find out why, as we jump BACK to the ISLAND ENCAMPMENT, where Cora is feeding these words into Aurora’s mouth, as she speaks into a GLOWING HEART! Cora makes Aurora tell Emma and the rest of the group that they still need Hook’s help, and that he cares for Emma. As Cora ends her usurpation of Aurora’s voice, we see Hook come from the shadows. It turns out he was the one who took Aurora’s heart, allowing Cora to control her like a puppet, as we’ve seen before. And while Hook concedes to Cora that Emma won’t trust him easily, she will believe he freed Aurora, and that’s all they need. Off this, Cora agrees to let Hook come with her to Storybrooke, as long as he can deliver the compass. Departing, he tells her he can and will.
Back in the forest of present day FTL, Aurora, innocent of the knowledge that she’s being manipulated, asks the group if they found out how to defeat Cora. Emma tells her about Rumple’s jail cell, and Aurora urges them to start their journey. The women walk off, not knowing that their effort to retrieve the ashes and make their way home carries an unseen and unknown danger.
Written by Brian L. Ridings