In 1966, Isaac is working as a TV salesman. His boss saves a sale he was about to lose because of his boring stories. Isaac’s life takes a turn when he gets a letter from a place called Star Publishing. A man, who looks a lot like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, orders him to choose the pen that calls out to him. It’s his way of determining that Isaac is to be their next author. He’s also going on a trip. Magically, a door appears. The fact that Isaac can see what’s on the other side is proof that he believes in magic.
In present day Storybrooke, the search is on for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Hook knows exactly where he is. The Blue Fairy is able to free him from his entrapment. The Apprentice lets them all know that they need to trap Isaac back inside the book. He needs the page with the painted door. That’s something Gold will likely be after as well. Speaking of the Dark One, he asks Isaac to write him a story where his memories having him believing that his son saw him as a hero. The Author can oblige. He continues to write. Eventually, he reaches “The End.” Once he pens those words, there’s shaking and flashes of bright light. What just happened?
Henry awakens to find that he is alone in Storybrooke. He turns off an old record player in Gold’s shop. He searches for his family. On a bookrack at a restaurant, he sees copies of a best-selling book called “Heroes and Villains.” The author is Isaac Heller. He’s on a book tour for his stories about what happens when villains win the day. Henry approaches him with the page and the key. He threatens to lock him away again unless he tells him what’s happened to his family.
Isaac tells Henry that his family is trapped in an alternate world in another book. He claims there’s no way to get them out. So Henry uses the key to go in after them. Isaac follows him. He ties up Henry. They are both in the final chapter. The book’s story ends with the loud tolling of bells at sunset and everything will end exactly as he wrote it. Before that, Henry must survive an ogre attack. A brave knight swoops in to save the day. His name: Rumplestiltskin.
Henry reads through the “Heroes and Villains” book to plot his next course of action. He runs into Regina, who doesn’t know he’s her son. His story about life in Maine doesn’t fly. Regina has no recollection of Operation: Mongoose. She thumbs through the book to see that she’s going to rob a royal tax carriage. Regina is a little freaked out by this. She burns the book. Only one page can be saved. Henry tries to convince Regina that she needs to find Robin Hood. True love’s kiss can fix everything.
Isaac is caught in a trap. He’s surrounded by dwarfs. Grumpy finds an “I Love Regina” pin a fan gave him in the real world. It makes him believe Isaac is a traitor. The Author is brought before the queen, Snow White. Prince Charming is summoned to behead Isaac, who saves himself by claiming he knows who the queen truly loves. It was Charming’s brother, James. Regina is the one who ruined things for her. Isaac wants Snow to kill her and the boy who is trying to help her.
Snow White captures Regina. She is about to rip out her heart when she’s reminded about the boy. Regina tries to reason with the queen. It doesn’t go over well. Snow White is about to hurl a fireball at Regina when Robin Hood swoops in to save her. The two robbing rivals later get to know each other at a bar. Robin asks Regina if she’d be up for taking his place as the leader of the merry men. He’s met someone special. They are to marry later that day. His bride-to-be is Zelena.
Henry tracks down his mom. Regina breaks the news that Robin has already found his true love. She doesn’t buy the idea that Zelena is her sister. Regina is angry at Henry for giving her hope that she’d find true love. She doesn’t want to be anywhere nearby when wedding bells start ringing later that day. Henry realizes the future bells are the same ones Isaac mentioned. They have to stop the wedding. Henry tells Regina that his other mom is known as the Savior. He realizes that she is in this world. Snow White locked her up years ago in an impenetrable fortress. This is where Emma remains bound and chained.