We’re in Fairy Tale Land, in the Queen’s Castle. We see a hooded figure climbing the stairs of the TOWER. Two of the Evil Queen’s BLACK GUARDS confront the stranger, telling him to halt. The stranger holds up a small pot, telling the guard that he’s got food for the prisoner. But the Black Knight isn’t buying it, telling the stranger to identify himself. In a flash the stranger sends a shining metal HOOK into the guard’s throat, killing him, and then makes the same short work of the other Black Guard, sending his hook into his chest. The stranger finally doffs his cowl, and we see it’s CAPTAIN HOOK! And he’s suspiciously in the Queen’s Castle. We are definitely in uncharted territory here.
Hook enters the CELL that was being guarded, only to find BELLE! This chapter of our story is taking place after Belle has been imprisoned by the Evil Queen (and after Hook has returned from Neverland). Hook greets Belle warmly, and dismisses her fear the he’s been sent by the Queen to kill her. Hook: “I’m not here to kill you, luv. I’m here to rescue you.” Belle is amazed, asking him who he is. Hook replies that he’s a friend, but that they don’t have much time. Her father is being attacked by the same monster who took her away from her family: the Dark One. Hook reveals that he has somehow learned about the Dark One’s Dagger, and knows he needs it to kill the monster. Belle tells Hook that she just needs to talk to Rumplestiltskin, assuring Hook he’s not a monster. She adds that she doesn’t know about the dagger or where it is. At this, Hook changes his demeanor. “Then I’m afraid I’m not here to rescue you.” THWACK! Hook strikes Belle, knocking her out. As he prepares to kill her, his hook suddenly flies off of his wrist. A shocked Hook looks over to see REGINA, in full Evil Queen glory, standing at the door, holding his purloined hook. She tells him that Belle is a valuable chess piece and not to be given up lightly. He tells her he’s not playing games and asks for his hook back. She tells him no, then reveals that she knows who he is and who he intends to kill. Regina tells Hook of her power, and informs him that Belle can’t help him kill Rumplestilstskin… but she can. If he does something for her, that is. Regina seductively pulls Hook toward her, asking if he’d care to join her for a drink.
In the Queen’s Chamber, Regina pours Hook a glass of wine as she tells him that things are about to change in this world. She tells him she plans to enact a curse that will take everyone to a far-off land (sound familiar?). Hook asks what good that does him, and Regina adds that it’s a land without magic, where he won’t need any magical weapons to kill the Dark One: he’ll be able to do it with a flick of his wrist. Hook asks her what she wants him to do for this, and she tells him that there’s one person she doesn’t want following her to this new land. He’s to see to it that doesn’t happen. Hook, amenable, asks her who she wants him to assassinate, and she tells him… her mother.
We go to Storybrooke, in Mr. Gold’s shop, where we are picking up shortly after the events of last episode. David is still in a sleeping spell after contacting Mary Margaret in the Netherworld. Mr. Gold asks Regina if there’s been any change in the Prince’s condition. She tells him no. He’ll need to receive true love’s kiss from Mary Margaret when she returns if he’s to ever wake. Gold thinks she’s being optimistic. Even if David was successful in delivering the message about the squid ink to MM and Emma, (which they don’t know for sure), it could be Cora coming through that portal, and that’s why they need to take precautions. Regina, dreadful, says that neither one of them wants that. Gold tells her they need to destroy the portal. Regina hesitates, saying that it could be Emma and Mary Margaret coming through the portal. Gold coolly describes this as a “win-win” for Regina. If they stop Cora’s passage, they’ll be spared her wrath. If they take out Emma and MM, then Regina will be the only person in Henry’s life. He suggests that she lie to Henry; something about the magic having unintended consequences, so she can cover her tracks. An emotional Regina tells him no. She can’t lie to Henry. She’s been trying to be a better mother. Gold reminds her that if Cora comes through the portal she won’t be able to be a better anything. Cora will be a threat to everyone, including her son. If she wants to protect her son and be a better mother, this is what she needs to do. Off Regina, torn, we go to –
Present Day Fairy Tale Land. Where EMMA, SNOW WHITE, MULAN and AURORA travel underground, heading through a dark tunnel towards…. Rumplestiltskin’s Cell. Coming off of the events of last episode, they’re after the squid ink (the only thing powerful enough to hold Cora at bay) which David told Snow was in Rumple’s cell. Snow reminds us this is where Rumple told them that Emma was going to be the savior. Mulan and Aurora, searching the cell, tell them that the squid ink isn’t here. They wonder if someone else could have moved the ink, but Snow reminds them that Rumple didn’t have outside contact while imprisoned; it was too dangerous. Taking this in, Emma wonders how Rumple kept from going crazy. Aurora: “He didn’t.” From a nearby wall, Aurora produces a scroll, showing it to the group. As the scroll unfurls, Emma’s shock is clear. On the scroll, written innumerably, is a name. Emma. Off Emma’s shock at this, we travel to –
Storybrooke. In the back room of Gold’s shop, where David lies, still stricken by the sleeping spell. Henry, nearby, reads to his grandfather from the story book, recounting the moment where Prince Charming woke Snow White from her slumber. Regina enters, catching the end of the story and telling Henry that she thinks this time it will happen the other way around. Henry asks her if she thinks so, and she says “I do.” We’re hopeful that Regina has resisted Gold, but our suspicion is triggered when she tells Henry he needs to watch over David while she goes with Gold to the well. Regina tells an inquisitive Henry that she and Gold need to prepare for Emma and Mary Margaret’s return. Henry, hopeful, asks her if she’s really going to help, and Regina promises that she will. Henry believes she really has changed, giving her a heartfelt smile. Regina tells him she’ll be back as soon as she can. We leap from there to…
… the Storybrooke mines. Gold and Regina wield flashlights to navigate the mine. Gold tells Regina he’s glad she came to her senses. She just wants to get this over with. Gold and Regina discover the cache of diamonds in the roof of the mine. Regina asks how much of the copious diamonds they’ll need. Gold tells her all of it. Regina: “How are we going to do that?” Gold reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a FAIRY WAND (the one he took from Cinderella’s fairy godmother in EP 104). He tells Regina he took it from a fairy. A dead one. “But believe me,” he says, “No one mourns her.” And as we ponder this, Gold uses the wand to collect the magic from the diamonds in the ceiling. A glowing light flows out of the diamonds and into Gold’s wand, charging it up with an intense glow. As Gold and Regina take in this powerful weapon, we go to –
Fairy Tale Land’s past. Back with Regina and Hook in her castle. Regina, holding Hook’s hook, imbues it with magic, then goes to Hook, clicking the hook back into place on his empty wrist. She tells him that she has enchanted the hook so that he can remove Cora’s heart. But the enchantment is only good for one heart-rip, so he needs to make sure he does it right. Hook, more curious than concerned, asks Regina what her mother could have done to warrant such brutality. “That’s my business,” Regina snaps. Hook’s business is to kill her and bring her back. Hook asks her when he’s to undertake this mission. She tells him now, and reveals that he won’t be going alone. He’s going to be taking the body of one of the guards he killed with him. Regina explains to Hook that she banished her mother to another realm long ago, and to get there he’ll need to use a portal. The rules for this portal are simple. One goes and one comes back. In this case it’s two going and two coming back. Hook, satisfied, asks her what far-off land he’ll have the pleasure of visiting, and Regina tells him, “Wonderland.” Hook asks her how he’ll find Cora, and Regina tells him not to worry; she’ll find him. With that, Regina tosses Jefferson’s hat onto the ground, where it starts to spin and grow, creating a portal. We plunge into the inky darkness of the portal into…
WONDERLAND. A group of guards lead Hook across a bridge. A woman with a mask watches intently as the guards force Hook to his knees. At the front of the procession, The Knave of Hearts announces… The Queen of Hearts. Hook quips, but the masked Queen whispers her query to the Knave, who asks Hook why he’s come to Wonderland. Hook, defiant demeanor intact, tells the Knave that he’s in search of someone who, in her native land goes by the name of Cora. The Queen casts off her mask and reveals herself to be… CORA! She orders everyone to leave. Alone with her captor, Cora demands his name. Hook,” he says, bowing. Cora smirks at this nickname, and Hook, seizing the moment, proffers a necklace as a gift. He’s trying to get close to her to rip out her heart. Cora tells Hook that she knows about the portal created by the hat. If he brought a body with him, who does he intend to bring back with him? Hook, tossing aside the necklace and his ruse, tells her, “You.” He PLUNGES his hook into Cora’ chest, magic glowing on her shocked face. Hook pulls his hook back out, awaiting his prize, but… there’s no heart! Cora, laughing, tells him that she’s the Queen of Hearts. She’s not going to keep her heart where everyone else does. With that she plunges her hand into Hook’s chest, showing him how it’s done. She demands to know who put him up to this, and after a few moments of agony, Hook tells her it was her daughter. Cora is stunned to find out that her daughter actually wants her dead. Cora tells him that, because she controls his heart, he’s going to tell her everything he knows and then he’s going to do everything she says. Off this turnabout –
We got to Fair Tale Land’s present day. We pick up Aurora in the cell, and of course we know from last episode that Hook has plucked out Aurora’s heart and given it to Cora. Aurora is now an unknown threat to Emma, Snow and Mulan. Emma, meanwhile, is trying to understand why Rumple had written this scroll with her name all over it. Snow tells her that Rumple was obsessed with her because she was the key to breaking the curse. No one in the group can find the ink that David told her was here, until… Mulan finds a small JAR. It’s empty. Before anyone can take this in, Aurora hurls a ROCK at the controls of the door cell, causing a barred door to SLAM down, trapping them all in the cell, even as a stunned Emma shouts “Aurora, what are you doing!?!” The answer comes from outside the cell… “Helping me.” Emma and everyone else see CORA stride up, Hook by her side. Cora uses magic to steal the enchanted compass from Emma’s hand, only to have it rematerialize in her own. Emma, seeing her chance to return to Henry disappearing: “No!” She struggles against the bars, but Cora tells her to save her strength. Rumplestiltskin himself couldn’t escape from this cell. Cora thanks Aurora for her help, and when the group seems to turn on her, Cora shows them Aurora’s glowing heart. She was being controlled. Emma: “You took her heart?” Hook steps forward and tells her actually it was he who took Aurora’s heart as a gift to Cora. Emma is stunned. Cora gives Aurora’s heart a squeeze, causing Aurora to buckle in pain. Cora tells the imprisoned heroes that she has to be going. Storybrooke awaits. As Cora and Hook leave, Emma pleads with Hook not to do this, reminding him that her son is in Storybrooke and he needs her. He tells her she should have thought of that before she left him atop that beanstalk. She says he would have done the same, but he leans in close as he tells her, “Actually, no.” Hook holds up the magic bean on a chain that the giant kept. He keeps it from Emma’s attempted grab, telling her that a pirate always keeps a souvenir. He tells her it’s more than a trinket, though. It’s something that was once filled with hope and possibility that has now died; much like Emma. He tells her the time for deals is done, as he is done… with her. With that Hook walks off with Cora, leaving our heroes locked up and helpless.
We go to Storybrooke, in the mines, where RUBY, flashlight in hand, goes to meet LEROY (AKA GRUMPY). She asks him what the emergency is, but a speechless Leroy just points his flashlight beam at the ceiling of the mine, where all the diamonds have disappeared. Off Ruby and Leroy’s dread…
We join Henry and a sleeping David in the BACK ROOM of Gold’s shop. Henry, still reading to David, is interrupted when Ruby and all of the DWARFS (minus Sneezy) barge in. Ruby wants to know where Gold and Regina are. She tells Henry that all the magic has been drained from the mine. Henry asks if his mother and Gold stole them, and Leroy confirms this, telling Henry that they snuck in after the dwarfs’ shift. Henry realizes that his mother lied to him. Henry tells a sympathetic Ruby that they need to find his mother and stop them. Off this determined group, we go to –
Present Day Fairy Tale Land, in Rumple’s cell, as Emma hits the bars with a sword to no effect. Snow tells Emma that the cell was enchanted to hold Rumplestiltskin; they don’t have a chance. Aurora slumps at this; crushed at knowing this is all her fault. Mulan disagrees, saying it’s her fault because she failed to protect her from Cora. Emma tells them, “That’s very sweet, but I believe it’s my fault.” She’s supposed to be the savior, but she’s not doing a lot of saving. Snow sits by her side, and tells Emma that they’re going to win this fight. Good always defeats evil. Emma: “You sound like Henry.” Snow guesses that optimism runs in the family. Emma suggests wryly that it skipped a generation. Snow reminds her that she broke the curse. But Emma recounts the litany of her failures since then, from getting them stranded to losing the compass to Cora. She adds that she only broke the curse because Gold manipulated her into it. Maybe that’s all she was supposed to do. She’s not a savior, she’s just a pawn. As Emma gets nearer to despair we go to…
Cora and Hook, crossing some rocky terrain. Hook asks where they’re going, and Cora tells him Lake Nostos. Legend has it that it has the power to restore things that have been lost, a power that Cora intends to use on the ashes of the magical wardrobe, at which point they’ll be capable of crossing worlds. As they approach their destination, Hook says he may just be a simple pirate, but he knows one thing; lakes have water. We see the familiar, dried out Lake Nostos (as barren as it was when we last saw it in FTL’s past, EP 203). With a wave of her hand, however, Cora’s magic swirls the dried out lake bed and starts to drill into it, until… a geyser of water shoots up! Cora asks Hook why, after all they’ve been through, he still doubts her. From his consideration we return to the past…
In Wonderland. Cora, her hand still in Hook’s chest. He tells her he’s told her everything he knows, so she should show some honor and kill him. But Cora just laughs. “Honor? For the pirate who snuck into my palace to assassinate me?” Hook reminds her that it was at her daughter’s behest. Cora tells him that she should have come and killed her herself. With that she squeezes Hook’s heart, making him cry out in agony. But then she pulls her hand out his chest and he slumps to the ground. Hook didn’t expect mercy, but Cora tells him it’s not mercy. She needs his help and her daughter knows her methods; if she was controlling Hook Regina would know. It has to be his choice. “Why should I?” he asks. Because, she tells him, she’s the only person who can get him what he wants. The curse Regina intends to enact, taking everyone to a new land? It will rob him of his memory. How can he expect to kill someone if he doesn’t even know who he is? Cora promises that if he helps her, he’ll not only get his revenge, but remember every moment of it. Hook is convinced, asking Cora what she would have him do. “Get me close to my daughter,” she says. “And then I’ll rip her heart out.” And from this shocking development –
We go to the Evil Queen Regina’s Castle, where Cora lies in a casket, seemingly very much dead. Regina, in a very funereal version of her extravagant dress, asks an attendant Hook if her mother put up a fight. Hook tells her it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. She thanks him, then asks him to leave so she can have a moment to say goodbye. After Hook leaves the room, shutting the door behind him, Regina gazes upon her mother, finally telling her she’s sorry. “Without you I never would have become the person I am now.” Regina implores that she had no choice. After Cora killed Daniel she told Regina something important: love is weakness. And for Regina, Cora is her weakness. Because, she says, she loves Cora. And that’s why Regina couldn’t take her to the new land. The love Regina felt made Cora’s grip too strong. And for what Regina needs to do, she can’t have any weakness. Regina places a rose on Cora’s chest, tearfully tells her goodbye, and leaves the room. As Cora grasps the rose Regina left, Hook sneaks back into the room. Offering his hand, he asks why she didn’t kill Regina. She tells him there’s been a change in plans. He asks her what that would be, but she just tells him that Regina’s curse is coming, and they have to protect themselves.
Shortly after that, standing outside near what we will come to recognize as the Island Encampment from FTL’s present day, Hook and Cora watch as the purple smoke of Regina’s curse envelopes the land. Cora slams a staff into the ground, sending up a bolt of energy that turns into a protective bubble covering the island. As the purple smoke passes over the protected sphere, Hook asks Regina if it wouldn’t have been easier to reconcile with Regina before she used the curse. Cora tells him her daughter doesn’t need her now. She thinks she’s won. But she still has a place for Cora in her heart. And one day this curse will end. In 28 years, the savior will break it. Hook reacts to the 28 years, but Cora tells him he’ll be frozen and won’t even notice it. But after that their quest will resume. And when it does, Regina will have truly lost everything. She’ll need Cora. And that’s when they’ll go to this new land. Hook will get his revenge, and Cora will help Regina pick up the pieces. And as we realize that Cora has been planning on the events taking place in our present day even before the curse took effect, we leap to –
Storybrooke, in the woods, 28 years later. Gold leads Regina, who asks him if he’s sure the portal is going to open up all the way out here. Gold at the nearby WELL, telling Regina that it’s where things that were once lost return to them. That’s where Cora will come through. They both gaze down into the well, where the water below is starting to churn. Regina reminds Gold that it could be Emma and Mary Margaret coming through the portal, but Gold simply tells her he highly doubts it.
Returning to Fairy Tale Land’s present day, we join Emma, Snow, Mulan and Aurora, all still trapped in Rumple’s cell. Snow, looking at the scroll, assures a morose Emma they’re going to get out of this. Emma asks how, by looking at that scroll? Snow realizes something, smiling as she tells Emma yes. Snow tells them that she remembers sneaking in and watching Cora do spells when she was a little girl. She had a spell book, and the spells were in the book. Emma’s confused, but Snow tells her to watch, and blows on the scroll. The ‘Emmas’ start to rise of the scroll and float in the air. Emma realizes that Rumple wrote her name with the squid ink! The cloud of squid ink floats toward the bars of the cell and magically dissolves the door. “Told you,” says Snow to Emma. “Good always wins.” As they prepare to go, Aurora tells them to wait. She can’t go; they have to tie her up. Mulan says they’re not leaving without her. Aurora reminds her that she can’t be trusted as long as Cora has her heart. After a short debate, Mulan agrees to tie Aurora up, promising to come back for her when it’s over. Aurora, emotional, tells them “Good luck.” Snow returns this sentiment before the three warriors set off to stop Cora and make it home.
Meanwhile, at Lake Nostos, Cora’s spell has been unearthing the lake further. Cora offers Hook the honors of pouring the wardrobe ashes into the large pool. He pours the glowing pink dust in, and immediately a portal starts to form in the water. Cora, smiling, tells him it won’t be long until they’re in Storybrooke, adding, “I really look forward to seeing my daughter.” From this ominous development, jump to –
Storybrooke. Where Gold and Regina look down at the well. Gold: “It’s time.” Regina: “So what are we waiting for?” They step away from the well and Gold raises his magic-charged wand into the air. The sky starts to darken, and then a green bolt of energy comes down, striking Regina and Gold, who in turn send the green energy into the well. A glowing, spinning sphere of energy now floats at the top of the well. Gold tells Regina that now, anything that comes through that well is going to die.
Back in Fairy Tale Land’s present, at Lake Nostos, the portal awaits Cora and Hook. She holds up the compass, telling Hook that he’d better hold on lest he end up somewhere other than Storybrooke. He takes hold of the compass with her, and as they prepare to jump into the portal… FWISH! An ARROW flies in and hits the compass out of their hands! They look up to see… Snow (wielding her bow), Emma and Mulan! You’re not going anywhere,” Snow tells them. “That portal’s taking us home.” Snow tells Emma to retrieve the compass as she pulls another arrow from her quiver. Emma and Mulan rush at Cora and Hook, with Cora throwing flame-balls at Mulan that she deftly deflects with her sword, and Hook and Emma sword-fighting. Hook, nothing if not an expert swordsman, disarms Emma, who tries unsuccessfully to tackle him. Snow fires an arrow at Hook that barely misses as he leans down. Emma struggles to reach her sword, but Hook grabs her by the foot and drags her away from it. Mulan, meanwhile, rolls in to attack Cora, but Cora disappears in a purple cloud of smoke. As she does, she drops the satchel containing Aurora’s heart, and Mulan accidentally catches the strap with her sword, sending it flying into the air, and aimed right at the gaping portal! As Mulan and Snow look on in horror, Aurora’s heart is about to be lost forever, when… it’s caught before entering the portal on a shiny metal hook! Everyone is stunned as Hook has caught the satchel, and then throws it to Mulan. “I may be a pirate,” he says, “but I bristle at the thought of a woman losing her heart.” He picks up his sword. “Unless it’s over me.” Emma rushes in to take Hook on again as Snow comes up to a stunned Mulan, telling her she needs to go bring Aurora her heart back. Mulan hesitates; she wants to help them get the compass, but Snow insists. Mulan gives Snow her sword, telling her that it’s enchanted, and can deflect Cora’s magic before running off to help Aurora. Emma, clashing swords with Hook, tells him she didn’t know he was such a softie. He tells her he just likes a fair fight. Cora taunts Snow as she circles her menacingly. Emma is knocked to her back, but as Hook moves in for the kill, Emma finds the COMPASS under her back. She manages to knock Hook off of her, then punches him with her compass-holding hand, knocking him out cold. Emma, defiant, “Now let’s go home!”
Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, by the well, Henry (with Ruby in tow) rushes up to Regina and Gold. He tells her he knows they’re not helping Emma and Mary Margaret. Gold knocks Ruby out with a magical blast, leaving Henry desperately trying to convince them not to go through with it. He rejects what Regina says about protecting him from Cora, telling her that Emma and Mary Margaret will defeat Regina’s mother and make it through, because good always defeats evil. Henry to Regina: “You should know that more than anyone.” But Regina is unmoved. She won’t let Cora hurt him.
In FTL, at Lake Nostos, Cora batters Emma and Snow with magic, swatting Emma away before turning to Snow. She intends to give her daughter Snow’s heart. But just as Cora goes for the heart-rip, Emma pushes Snow out of the way, causing Cora to plunge her hand into Emma’s chest! Cora, stunned, tells Emma that love is weakness. She tries to pull out Emma’s heart, but she can’t! Emma, understanding something, “No. It’s strength.” And with that Emma’s chest emits a concussive wave of magic that knocks Cora away. Snow joins a stunned Emma, but tells her that her desire to know what the hell that is a great question for another time. From here to –
Storybrooke, by the WELL. Regina holds back Henry as he frantically pleads with them. Henry tells Regina that if she wants to be better, to change, this is her chance. If she wants him to trust her, she needs to trust him. Regina, moved, goes to the well and absorbs the green energy over the portal, and after a blast, everything is still. Regina has failed, telling Henry she’s sorry. But just then… a HAND reaches over the edge of the well. It’s Emma and Mary Margaret, they made it through! Henry calls out to Emma, “Mom!” He, Emma and Mary Margaret (now that she’s back in Storybrooke) share a joyfully tearful hug. Gold is stunned, as is Regina, who also realizes suddenly that this means that Emma has returned to Henry’s life. As Gold walks off, MM asks what’s going on. Henry tells her that Regina saved them. Emma, stunned, tells Regina thank you. Ruby rushes up, hugging her friends. MM tells them she needs to get to her husband, and she and Ruby go to find David. After they go, Emma tells Regina her mom is a piece of work. Regina agrees and welcomes her back.
At Gold’s Shop, where the Dwarfs watch over a sleeping David, Mary Margaret rushes in, and KISSES him, with the same magic effect we saw when Charming woke Snow. David awakes, and Emma, Henry and the Dwarfs watch as he and Snow tearfully reunite. Emma takes Gold aside, and after telling him she understands why he felt he needed to keep Cora from getting here, she reveals that she was able to stop Cora from taking her heart. Gold tells her it was not of his doing, and that he merely took advantage of her power; he didn’t create it. That magic is hers. As Emma takes in this revelation –
We go to present day Storybrooke, where Mulan pulls Aurora’s glowing heart from the satchel. They’re uncertain if she’ll be able to do it, but Mulan is successful, and Aurora’s heart is returned to her. Mulan asks what they’ll do now, and Aurora tells her that Cora said that when a wraith consumes a person their soul can be returned to their body. The two of them begin a quest to do just that for Prince Philip.
And at Lake Nostos, Cora and a dazed Hook stare at the water where the portal was. Cora says they failed, but Hook produces the MAGIC BEAN from earlier, telling her the restorative powers of the lake can get them another portal. From here we go to –
Storybrooke, in Gold’s shop, where Henry hugs Regina, saying he was right; she really had changed. Everyone is happy to be reunited. Emma asks Henry if he’s hungry, causing Henry to leave Regina, and the room to clear, leaving Regina alone and heartbroken. Gold, twisting the dagger, “Congratulations, you just reunited mother and son.” Maybe one day they’ll even invite her to dinner. Off Regina, tears in her eyes –
Our heroes walk down Main Street Storybrooke together. Everything is right in the world as they head to Granny’s. But our view goes up, above them and then the town itself. We see the sea behind it, and moving swiftly across it… a ship. But not a modern fishing vessel, this is a galleon and a pirate ship! We join Hook and Cora on board as they survey their target… the town of Storybrooke! And off of this menacing arrival…
Written by Brian L. Ridings